Traditionally worn by the Maasai in East Africa, the shuka bears a history as rich as its colours.

Cultural Fabric: The Maasai's Shuka

 by Nellie Haung | G Adventures

Even if you’ve never heard of cloth, there’s a high chance you’ve seen it in pictures. Often red with black stripes, cloth is affectionately known as the “African blanket” and is worn by the Maasai people of East Africa.

To give you some brief background knowledge, the Maasai are a semi-nomadic people from East Africa who are known for their unique way of life, as well as their cultural traditions and customs.

Living across the arid lands along the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania and , the Maasai population is currently at around 1.5 million, with the majority of them living on the Masai Mara National Reserve of Kenya. They are known to be formidable, strong warriors who hunt for food in the wild savannah and live closely with wild animals.

The Maasai identity is often defined by colourful beaded necklaces, an iron rod (as a weapon) and of course, red cloth. While red is the most common colour, the Maasai also use blue, striped, and checkered cloth to wrap around their bodies. It’s known to be durable, strong, and thick — protecting the Maasai from the harsh weather and terrain of the savannah.