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Massai photographer with Hasselblad! Kenya

Massai photographer with Hasselblad! Kenya
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The Massai live only on the Tanzania-Kenya border, along the Great Rift Valley on semi-arid and arid lands.They have been deported from their best traditional grazing lands, that are now known as the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the Amboseli National Park, and other protected forests.
The Maasai comprise 5 clans. They have reputation of fierce warriors. But they are traditionally seminomadic, and live off their cattle almost exclusively. The Maasai believe that all cattle belong to them and they are known to be cattle raiders. Cattle raiding used to be a common inter tribal activity. The livestock is a sign of wealth and is traditionally used to pay dowry for the wedding. Women are worth 10 cows. They consistently come from another village. Parents are the ones who negociate for the marriage. In the Maasai community, women construct the huts, collect firewood, bring water, milk the herds of cattle and cook for the family. Young boys look after the beasts while the warriors protect the clan. Older men take care of the daily operations in the community. The Maasai live in families in a Manyatta (a form of enclosed homestead), surrounded by a fence made of thorny bushes to protect them and their livestock from intruders and predators. Each Manyatta has about 10 to 20 huts known as "Inkajijik". These huts are made of tree branches, mud, grass and cow dung. If a man has more than one woman, he must build another house to welcome his second wife (to avoid rivalry). So a man who has 3 wifes must own 3 houses and therefore be rich. In the Maasai culture, the colorful ornaments are dedicated to their beauty, which is one of the most important aspects. Visual arts consist mainly of body decoration and beaded ornaments. These decorations are displayed in their dances, which are a popular art form. Women wear beaded necklaces and bangles, and men a red checked shuka (Maasai blanket). The warriors carry a spear and a ball-ended club, and paint their body with ochre. Maasai's diet includes meat, cow blood 2 times a week, and a lot of milk. The cows are bled by opening a vein in the neck with a blunt arrow or knife. The blood is then drunk on it’s own or with milk. The Maasai speak a Nilotic language, called Maa.
They believe in one God, Ngai (meaning "One Creator God"), the creator and giver of all things. They also believe in witchcraft. In each tribal group, there is a prophet who is seen as helping to cope with the endemic sorcery, by the means of protective medicines and advices for the rituals. In addition to the prophets, they also have diviners who are supposed to have the power to diagnose illnesses and causes of misfortune, and can prescribe a range of herbal medicines and ritual cures. Despite the fact that some members have moved to cities, many have kept their customs. The most distinctive feature of Maasai society is the age system for men, divided in sets and spaced apart by about fifteen years. Excision, as well as circoncision, is an initiatory ceremony that mark the passage to adulthood. Although excisions are prohibited in Kenya, it is widespread throughout the country, especially in rural areas. Only 4 ethnic groups (Luo, Luhya, Teso and Turkana) out of 42 don't practise it. According to the ethnies and regions, excisions vary considerably and range from 4.1% in the western region to 98.8% in the North-Est. They are common within the Somali (97%), Kisii (96%) and Maasai (93%) while they are less frequent among the Kikuyu (34%) and Kamba (27%). The kenyan law is rarely enforced and it sometimes lead this practice to clandestinity instead of slowing it down. For the 3 months of recovery period after excision, Maasai girls wear jewellery and chalk make-up, to show they must not be seen by men. Circumcision happens at the age of 18 in the Maasai tribes. Maasai woman are not allowed to attend the ceremony. Boys who show their pain with tears during the operation, are considered as cowards and bear this shame all his life. On the contrary, the ones who don't cry during circumcision are authorized to hunt colorful birds with their bow and arrows. Then they make a headdress indicating their new warrior's status. After the operation, boys go in their mother's hut to drink cow's fresh blood to recover their forces. The promotion of warriors to elderhood involve two distinct ceremonies. The 4 days eunoto ceremony raise the warriors to the senior warrior status. For this occasion, warriors gather in the same village. They are led by a ritual leader (olotuno). Each one of them has a part of his head shaved by his mother, which often makes them cry. It symbolizes the end of their freedom and of the bond with their mother. At the end of the ritual, the warrior can select any girl to marry. The olghesher ceremony promote them to senior elderhood thanks to which they have the power to bless and curse, and become protective leaders of the next new age-set.
During one of the ceremonies, maasai girls accompany their lover to the ceremonial dance. Pearl neacklaces and headbands follow the rhythm. This is the sole moment when girls can choose freely 3 lovers among the warriors.Traditionally, as long as the father was alive, no son has final control over his cattle nor over his choice in marriage. At marriage, the bride is allocated a herd of cattle, from which all her sons will build up herds of their own. In any case, women are raised to accept her submission to her future husband.

© Eric Lafforgue

Date: 2009-07-22 12:56:47

8183 tribal tribe africa lafforgue kenya east africa people hasselblad camera masai massai afrika tribu human remote portrait face visage afrique african maasai Keňa - ケニア Кенија Кения 肯尼亚 케냐 Quênia Quénia Κένυα كينيا Кенијa tribo tribes ethnic ethnology ethnie culture tradition Headgear headwear headdress

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Waw! New generation!
Rita Willaert 2009-07-22 13:09:31
now this is really special, never seen a photograph of such before, a real momentum here!
relieved jar 2009-07-22 13:10:14
roomy voice 2009-07-22 13:16:08
ohhh he's good.
Must have been taught by the best!
special record 2009-07-22 13:41:03
oh masai are shooting with a hasselblad :d nice RED !
dzpixel 2009-07-22 14:54:18

We would welcome this photo in *Six Million Years of Tinkering*
Seen on your photo stream. ( ?² )
nosha 2009-07-22 18:00:19
you´re awesome Eric!!
serdelsol 2009-07-22 19:47:44
this could so be an advert for hasselblad
Jaavs 2009-07-23 16:03:13
Fully agree with Jaavs (even sent the link to a friend working for HB)
Cedric Favero 2009-07-25 01:26:13
Hi, I'm an admin for a group called The Photographer Photographed (People who take Photographs), and we'd love to have this added to the group!
Mubeen Mughal 2010-02-16 20:17:32
I absolutely love this. It reminds me of the time I was in Tanzania on safari in this HUGE WWII German tank. Two Maasai girls see us drive by, awed, and then take out their camera phones to take a picture of us.
RB Wissner Photography 2010-10-01 07:50:15
Very cool! i recently met some masai people, and have some photographs on my page. i love this though!
maura gunter 2010-11-04 01:40:57
This Picture Inspired Me, Seen In

** From GET INSPIRED group
Il linguaggio degli alberi di Ciampi e Cannizzaro 2010-11-04 20:37:22
Join Us On Thematic Contest "CONTRASTS" Rules Apply
doitsunosensei 2010-11-04 22:36:24
Ashe naleng! (Maa for thank you very much).
Juliana Beletsis 2011-07-28 10:37:42
lol the trust with the equipment oh wow lol
@lavishnomad 2013-11-02 15:34:03
Are the Maasai seen as people, it appears not so from 'some' of the posters; bigoted, ignorant, and arrogant remarks and comments.
Mubeen Mughal 2013-11-03 01:52:53
all right
mech0135 2015-01-30 18:17:36

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