Traditional art and crafts from Kenya's Masaai tribe

Kenya is home to more than forty native tribes. The Masaai tribe, despite being one of the smallest in numbers, is well-known domestically because of the prominent places they have made home; in the rift valley and close to Kenyan game parks and lakes. They are also very well known globally thanks to their distinctive style and continued use of traditions. 

The Masaai tribe in Kenya. Photo Credit: Pawan Sharma

The Masaai tribe in Kenya. Photo Credit: Pawan Sharma

Red shúkàs (sheets wrapped around the body) are commonly worn, often decorated with a checked pattern, while leather products and glass-beaded jewellery have a long history within the tribe. 

Leather and glass-beading is usually produced by Masaai women, such as Lois Lasiti (below). 

Lois Lasiti makes leather, beaded belts

Lois Lasiti makes leather, beaded belts

Lois is an artisan from Kajiado, in Kenya’s Rift Valley who is today working with Vijiji Designs to produce leather belts.

Vijiji Designs is a Kenyan based social enterprise working with women’s groups in the Rift Valley, to empower artisans such as Lois to improve their livelihoods by producing high-quality, hand-crafted accessories with trendy designs in keeping with current market demands. 

Lois has been able to increase her income and purchase goats to add to the family's herd. As we delve deeper into the community of women working with Vijiji designs, we find a common story; artisans are able to meet basic needs, build better houses, purchase more cattle and send children to school - all without giving up their traditional way of life. 

- Purchase a belt, hand-crafted by Lois, from our online store. 

Vijiji Designs is founded by Ms. Njeri Kuria, a designer who was inspired to create new lines of accessories using traditional bead-work and leather techniques. All products are made using locally sourced materials. Njeri is working hard to support local communities and ensure they are able to continue using their traditional handiwork to make a better living. 

- Creativity breeds creativity. Share the vibrancy of Kenya's artisans using the social icons below.