The agrarian lifestyle of Kenya’s Maasai people has been significantly affected by development and tourism. Since the early 20th century, women have helped support their families by using their traditional beadwork skills to create items for trade. These sandals from Pikolinos feature hand-beaded accents made by Maasai women. All of Pikolinos’ profits from the sales of these shoes support development projects in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, in collaboration with ADCAM and the Juan Peran Pikolinos Foundation.
This lightweight sandal features a black, white, and red beaded design on elastic straps for slip-on comfort. Vegetable-tanned leather upper with synthetic outsole and back zipper closure.
Handcrafted in Kenya.
The Maasai live in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, where they’ve herded cattle for centuries. All members of the Maasai but the youngest boys wear beaded accessories such as headdresses, belts, bracelets, and arm bands. Women also wear large, flat collars, sometimes several at a time. Women string glass seed beads in a variety of colorspreferences vary throughout the Maasai’s regionon sinew or wire to construct geometric patterns and sculptural, structured designs.
Beadwork has always been important to Maasai culture. Brides wear necklaces that have been passed down from mothers and grandmothers, and the young men who serve as warriors are often adorned in many beaded accessories at once.
When contact with Europeans increased during the 20th century, these beaded accessories served as valuable trade goods and it’s around this time that the colors of the beads came to take on symbolic meaning, mostly inspired by the Maasai’s agrarian lifestyle. Blue is the sky and green is the land. Orange and yellow are colors of hospitality. Red signifies danger and strength, but because it is the color of the blood shed by cows that are slaughtered for celebrations, it also symbolizes community.