Monday, February 18, 2013

Celebrate African Ethnic Jewelry Designs During Black History Month

Masai tribal jewelry, beads, metalwork
Masai tribal jewelry design motifs

I’ve been vicariously exploring Africa’s ethnic cultures all these years through the tribal jewelry that’s produced on the different parts of the Continent.

Masai Tribal Designs

Masai tribal jewelry is my favorite ethnic jewelry. The Masai people are largely domiciled in Kenya and Tanzania on the Horn of Africa.  Their colorful trade beads woven into collars, bracelets and headbands have been a mainstay of my jewelry stash for years. 

Layers of long necklaces of trade beads look especially chic when paired with summer clothes.

Masai, shukkas, Indian Ocean
Masai gent at the beach

When an African garment is in order for events during Black History Month, I always wear my version of the traditional Masai red blanket-like garments called shukkas:  I wear an extra large red chiffon shawl over simple black or dark brown clothes.
If you look closely at a  shukka, you can see that they are the original Greek toga!

I love all African tribal designs!

The jewelry design elements include  woven  trade beads, metalwork, carved wood, gold pendants or glittering gemstones.


 Where To Find African Tribal Jewelry

The following shopping resources have some of  the largest selections of African jewelry:
  1. Online stores at Ebay or Etsy
  2. Jewelry Shows at exhibition halls
  3. Art Fairs
  4. African Import Stores

As an African-American I have the great privilege of choosing my African tribe. I celebrate African design elements from all over the Continent or “hiding in plain sight” throughout the United States and the Americas.

Studying tribal motifs in African ethnic jewelry is a great way to learn about the diverse people living in countries throughout Africa.

1 comment:

  1. For years, African art and fashion was off the mainstream radar. But that’s no longer the case. With Africa Fashion Weeks popping up in London and Los Angeles this year, and an Africa Fashion Day during Berlin’s Fashion Week, African art and design has been elevated to the center stage.