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  • Writer's pictureRinku Ghosh

Maasai women artists have a big place in my heart!

Beading is very much a Maasai art. The women make amazing pieces with very basic tools (if any). During our recent visit to Tanzania, I wanted to have some beading experience with local Maasai women.

Two grandmas walked miles from their village to meet me, and we spent time together beading this choker necklace. We did not have any common language to communicate with each other. Luckily, a translator helped us and we survived pretty well!

In the Western world I have so many choices when designing a beaded piece of art. My favorite is fancy Miyuki baroque glass pearl made in Japan! How about clasps embedded with Swarovski crystals and the best quality stringing material with all the technical elements stamped in the stringing package! It goes on and on. I am spoiled!

But these Maasai women proudly brought whatever they had from their local market: A mixed bag of plastic color beads (gold, red and black beads were sorted out by hand), a blade (very sharp though), only one type of metal stringing wire, plastic bottle pieces to make spacers, and one needle to make holes in the spacers. Most important was the strong determination they had to make do with very little, and of course, two pairs of tired naked eyes! No glasses.

It was dark by the time they finished it. To my pleasant surprise they had a cell phone and used the phone’s flashlight for the later part of the project. I took a picture of the finished piece while placing it on the bare floor of the hut. It reminds me and my friends of their story. Back home I put it on a nice display in my studio.The special human touch to this piece is inspiring!Thank you!

Till next time. Rinku.

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