You have probably seen photos of the people of the Maasai tribe, adorned in bold and bright jewellery. The bright colours and intricate patterns are the traditional work of the Maasai style, made by women from this tribe in northern Tanzania, dating back to before the 19th century when international trade introduced glass beads. At that time, the Maasai abandoned the use of natural resources – clay, wood, copper, bone, and brass – for this new material.
The Maasai are one of the most famously known East African peoples globally. The way they have maintained their traditional way of life, coupled with an adaptation to modern culture, is truly fascinating and intriguing to visitors of Tanzania. Traditional dress and jewellery are customary of Maasai people in the most rural villages as well as of those who live in big cities.
Sidai Designs in Arusha
Sidai Designs is a local organization based in Arusha town that began with five Maasai artisans and has since grown into a community of over 100, creating handmade contemporary jewellery and homewares in the standard Maasai style. Through their local charitable arm, they empower Maasai women through income generation, community development, knowledge and education. This encourages sustainable livelihoods, giving women financial independence while preserving Maasai culture and showcasing it to the world.
Your Personal Beading Workshop
Sidai Designs will welcome you for a two-hour traditional Maasai beading class set in their tranquil gardens. Beginning with a tour of the workshop where many designs are produced, you will be inspired to create your own beautiful piece of Maasai-inspired jewellery and memory of Tanzania to take back home. While being guided by the Maasai beaders to make your own piece, you will also have an opportunity to learn more about their culture, about the symbolism and social meaning of this craft, making for a unique cultural experience. Following the class, please allow additional time to peruse the store and enjoy the tranquil gardens, an oasis of calm amid busy Arusha town.