Friday, 16 September 2011

The Masai Markets

You cannot be in Nairobi and not visit the Masai market! Unlike Tanzania, where there is a whole village of ebony carvers, Tinga Tinga artists,bead makers and so on, the one in Nairobi is a roving one.They move from one shopping mall to another and have fixed days of the week for each mall. So if it's at Westgate on Tuesday, it's at the Village Market on Friday, there is a musical one with live music at Junction Mall on Thursdays and it is at the Yaya Centre on Sundays.
And it is a thing to behold! Whether you are shopping for souvenirs to take back home for family and friends or looking for little knick knacks to brighten up your house in Nairobi, this is the place to visit.Your budget could be just a dollar or it could be a thousand dollars, you will find what you want at the right price right here. And bargain you must, else where is the fun in shopping at a Masai market?
The first thing that strikes a person entering the venue is the riot of colours! From the black and brown of the ebony statues, to the bright reds and oranges of the Masai shukas (sheets/blankets), to the carved bowls of green malachite, the blues, pinks, yellows of the beads in beautiful necklaces to the glint of silver coloured bangles, the gleam of an Africa shaped brass pendant,the burnished gold of the giraffe shaped earrings, it is dazzling to say the least!
A variety of masks frown or glare or smile,as the case may be, at you and many are painted in enchanting colours. It is indeed a tempting array. A mask can be as small as your palm or it can cover half the wall in your living room, you can take your pick! Then there are the Kangas and the Kitenges, the traditional African cloths, which are of pure cotton with block prints on them and proverbs printed on them too. Though these are to be worn on the body, they double  up as unusual couch covers too and really brighten up a room!
The Masai Market is a paradise for young girls who love jewellery, as there is an amazing range available here. From the traditional Masai beaded designs to the more modern pieces as well, you will get what you are looking for. In fact the little boys feel a bit left out while shopping here unless you indulge them with a Masai spear and a good,old fashioned catapult! Then see them smile.
Intricately carved bowls and plates with animal designs, matching trays, water glasses with animal etchings, you truly feel you are in Africa. And, if nothing else,at least buy a fabulously carved chess set before you leave. It will give you hours of brain exercise and,who knows,might be a family heirloom, a hundred years down the line!

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