Artifact of the Week
Artifact of the Week
Posted on 03/06/2019

Week 13: Maasai Ornamented Gourds

What do you think these containers are made from?

What do you think these held?



Answers:

What do you think these containers are made from? Who made them?

They are each made from a hollowed out calabash, a type of gourd which grows on vines and is harvested for many different uses. Gourds are grown and used all over the world, but these ones were grown and decorated by the Maasai people of east Africa, who are known for their intricate and colorful beadwork. The Maasai live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, occupying a total land area of 160,000 square kilometers, and number approximately one-half million to one million people.

What do you think these held?

Most often these gourds were used to hold water or milk. Cattle are central to the traditional Maasai way of life, and sometimes to help supplement the diet, cow blood is added to the milk. But herd size is shrinking in east Africa, and the Maasai's dependence on cattle is also slowly decreasing.

For more information:

Maasai Association