Maasai grooming

Being a murran means one has to be smart all the time; but this does not mean a murran must take a shower every day. Instead, a murran always carries a mirror tied to one end of his shuka, and you will often see him looking at himself in the mirror, making sure he is well-groomed. The yellow and pink circles of plastic you can see hanging from these murrans’ shukas are mirrors.


He must make sure that the red ochre that is applied to the face is not messed up, so that he can re-apply it if it gets damaged. Showers are normally taken in a river, not bathrooms, and if it takes a whole month to get to a river or close to any water source then they can wait. During sleeping they use a piece of the stomach of a cow, that is made thin and light. They wrap it around their hair so that they don’t damage the red ochre.


Murrans clean their teeth with a branch of a bush. The roots of this bush are boiled up and used to treat upset stomachs, but the branches are cut and stripped of their bark. The top is then made flat for cleaning the teeth, and the other end is sharpened to use as a toothpick. This video, filmed by Lion Guardian Lenkina, shows me making a Maasai toothbrush!

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


  • Sherri S. says:

    Thank you, Antony! Your blogs are always so interesting.

  • Lisa, Seattle says:

    Antony, I really enjoy your blogs on Maasai culture.

  • Christine C. says:

    Antony — quite the dicotomy from seeing one brush with a stick, but then seeing another talking on a cell phone…talk about tremendous examples of strongly imbedded culture embracing modern gadetry without compromising tradition!

  • Desiree says:

    I really enjoyed your site. I was using your site for a reference to a paper on my class “Cultural Anthropology”. I am now intrigued about your culture after viewing this site.
    Thank You.

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