SELF-INDULGENCE 116 – MAASAI WOMAN (MONO), AND THROWING STICKS

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I love this picture, it is amongst my all time favourites.  Looking at it this morning, I know that she and I are in the same species –  and yet we may as well be from different planets, we are worlds apart.

We Westerners may be more technologically and scientifically advanced than these tribespeople, yet if there were a catastrophic world disaster tomorrow – a large meteor strike perhaps – would I rather be me, or her?  In the event of such a disaster, and assuming that neither of us were killed by the impact, any bets on which of us would me the more adept at fending for ourselves in a shattered world?  It would not be me – despite the fact that, very distantly, I am related by marriage to her.

Here are the photo’s original words.

One of two Maasai women that we met as they walked together across the open grasslands of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, amidst the large mammals – Elephant, Lion, Hyaena, Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Leopard, Aardvark, Cheetah, Gazelle, Baboon, Giraffe, Black Rhinoceros and so on – that are an integral and accepted part of their everyday lives; April 1979. Inevitably being effected by western culture to some extent, many Maasai still lead fairly traditional lives. I have lightened the whites of her eyes, to give the photo more punch.  The second woman is shown in the “Kenya (1)” post, and on this blog’s Home page.

I’ve been asked to show the throwing sticks mentioned in this post’s Comments and here they are.  I’d forgotten that they’re known as a Rungu.

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Above is the stick that was often thrust into my belt when we were out in “the bush” – mainly to ward off monkeys and baboons intent on stealing out food.  But it would also be useful if threatened by people too.

Its made of a single piece of wood, from a particular plant I think, and the rounded end is the part of the plant at or below ground level.  The whole thing is lethal.  Held by the shaft and wielded as a club it could easily break someone’s skull.  The other end is slightly pointed, to act as a crude stabbing weapon.  And, held by this pointed end, it can be hurled through the air.  With it is a 12 inch ruler.

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The one that I was given just prior to leaving Kenya, by the occupants of a Maasai village (a manyatta) to which I used to take tourists.
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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer - using mono, colour and combinations of the two - many types of subject, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous, trying new ideas, working in multiple genres. And I've a weakness for Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

13 Responses to SELF-INDULGENCE 116 – MAASAI WOMAN (MONO), AND THROWING STICKS

  1. Roshan Clicks says:

    Stunning portraiture Adrian.. I too wish to travel to this part of world one day.. Thank you for sharing it .

    Greetings !!
    Roshan

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Greetings to you too, Roshan, and thank you! If you do travel to Kenya then preparation is everything. First you will need to consider what sort of budget you have. Then reading up about intended destinations. And presumably you’ll want an experience – alone or in a like-minded group – that gives you plenty of time and opportunity for photography. You already have a lot of travelling experience and you may well already know what I’m going to say, but travelling in Africa, especially if alone and in wild places, is not something to be undertaken without much preparation. Adrian

      Like

  2. Sonali Dalal says:

    What a wonderful portrait!

    Like

  3. icastel says:

    Very powerful image, Adrian. I really, really like it. Now, if we could only get a shot of one of those throwing sticks 🙂

    Like

  4. krikitarts says:

    This is one of my favorite of your portrait works too, Adrian. The intensity of her gaze is absolutely piercing and unforgettable. Also, the hint of a small frown and the surprising delicacy of her fingers add greatly to the overall effect.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      The intensity of her gaze and the small frown – well, as far as I know, this is not someone used to meeting foreigners or even more to being photographed by them – this is one world looking out upon another, and I value that immensely.

      Like

  5. Helen Cherry says:

    Interesting that you chose B&W for this and even more interesting that you say you are distantly related by marriage! A very lovely portrait.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Well I like mono, but I think that in this case I was more making a virtue of a necessity, due to the original colour slide showing the ravages of time, ie age, period spent in the tropics – as well as being blasted by projector bulbs during numerous slideshows! I might be able to do more with it these days.

      Obviously a very colourful person but, once again, mono lets me really look into her, it cuts the distractions.

      And related – yes. Not to this particular individual of course, but certainly to her people. And funnily enough, as I sit here typing this, I have two Maasai throwing sticks beside me. One is pristine, and was given to me just before I left Kenya, by Maasai I used to take tour parties to.

      And the other has been used – it was often stuck in my belt when we were in “the bush” – where it had a wonderfully discouraging effect on marauding baboons and monkeys. Also it was kept in case we ran into any unfriendly people – as my old safari colleague put it, “To show them that you have something”.

      These sticks are lethal. Made from a single piece of hard wood and about 18 inches long, they are bulbous at one end and slightly pointed at the other. They can be used as a club, or as a crude stabbing weapon – or they can be thrown, when they tumble over and over in flight, and inflict a very solid blow – baboons kept out of our way! A

      Like

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