When I travel, my eye is always drawn to different textiles, pottery, jewellery and other hand crafted items. Kenya is a wonderful place for seeing and buying hand crafts. I wrote about some of it here.
Kenyan beadwork is connected to the cultures of the various tribes doing the beadwork and is a somewhat new addition to their culture. Much like it was to the Native American Indians who traded in beads with the foreign settlers, Kenyan beadwork dates back to the late 19th century when beads from what is known today as the Czech Republic, became available to them.
Beadwork has a special attraction for me because when I was a teenager, I made things out of seed beads. Mostly I made earrings and necklaces for the women in my community. They loved to adorn themselves with one of a kind pieces. I haven't done any of that kind of work since then.
In Kenya, bead work is often used, along with hairstyle and other types of adornment, as a way of identifying someone's status and identity. I'm not sure if this is still the case today, but certainly it probably is where the tribal traditions are thriving. Westerners tend to know more about Maasai beadwork. For example, a mother may place a string of beads around a baby's wrist, ankle and waist and thereby be able to track the baby's growth. In addition, a girl or boy's eligibility for marriage can be observed by the shape, pattern and colour of their beadwork.
A beaded bowl caught my eye the last time I was in Nakuru. The beautiful colours caught my eye and also the fact that I'd never seen a beaded bowl before. I brought one home. It now sits in my bathroom holding small items like my hair clips. I would love to have several more of them in different colours; at least one gold, and one in different shades of blue. I'm sorry I didn't buy more but I have learned not to overdo it with the tourist purchases. Whenever I get back to Kenya, I can buy a few more bowls.
I added the last photo jut because I like the wavy lines of colour that occurred when I moved my camera too quickly.
In writing my post I was fortunate to come across a book devoted to the culture and customs of Kenya, called Culture and Customs of Kenya by N. W. Sobania. It looks like a wonderful book for your library if you're at all interested in the culture of Kenya; a fascinating country with many different cultural traditions.
Enjoy your weekend!