This pair of large earrings would have been worn by a Maasai woman, as a vibrant visual emblem of her married status, and a display of wealth and prestige. The shape of each earring is reminiscent of an abstracted figurative form. The long, curved extensions on either side are features that make these earrings particularly special. Hanging metal pendants, adorning the earrings, are testament to the Maasai’s creative re-working of aluminium as a prestige material.
Among the Maasai, the transition from one life stage to the next is often accompanied by a change in adornment, which are predominantly made from beads. Beadwork has a long history in Maasai culture, and is a significant ‘material language’. The beaded jewellery adorning an individual signifies their age and social status, with the colours of the beads carrying specific meanings and symbolism.