Famed worldwide for their dances, music, customs and body modifications, The Maasai people are a huge part of culture in Tanzania. Having originated from Southern Sudan, they migrated into Tanzania during the 17th Century and, of the remaining 12 distinct groups of Maasai left in the world, the largest of these groups is found in Northern Tanzania. With their original customs still largely held in tact within these groups, they prove to be a great source of tourism within the country; as many Westerners, and other nationalities alike, flock to get a glimpse of their extraordinary art, dances and traditional dress.
In spite of their reputation as fierce warriors, Maasai tribes revolve around their cattle. One of their spiritual beliefs is that their God, Enkai, created cattle for the Maasai and that all the cattle on earth belong solely to them. This bond has led them to a nomadic way of life following patterns of rainfall over vast lands in search of food and water for their cattle. Traditionally, all of the Maasai’s needs were met by their cattle; they ate the meat, drank the milk and sometimes blood. Animals were slaughtered for ceremonies, and all their clothing, shoes and bedding came from the hide, whilst cow dung was used for building.
There are numerous traditions and ceremonies performed by Maasai men. Perhaps best known is the ‘warrior’ jumping dance where young Maasai moran (youth) leap into the air from a standing position in order to demonstrate strength and agility.