Enquiry about object: 6992

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    Maasai Bone Talismanic Pendants

    Maasai People,  Kenya & northern Tanzania
    20th century

    length of the pendants: between 4.1 and 5.9cm, combined weight: 136g



    UK art market

    – scroll down to see further images –

    This group of sixteen carved bone pendants is from the Maasai people of  Kenya and northern Tanzania.

    Each has a pleasing, elongated shape, perhaps based on the shape of a teat, which seems likely given the traditional Maasai dependence on milk in the diet.

    Related examples of necklaces with such pendants are illustrated in Grootaers & Eisenburger (2002, p. 322) who report that the Masai traditionally tied such bone pendants with braided leather thongs to rams to protect them against disease and as a fertility talisman.

    Traditionally, the Maasai have led a semi-nomadic lifestyle. They were pastoralists and kept cattle and sheep. The Maasai diet consisted primarily of raw meat, milk, honey and raw blood from cattle.

    Each pendant here is in fine condition and has a good weight.


    Grootaers, J. L. & I. Eisenburger, Forms of Wonderment: The History and Collections of the Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal, 2002.

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