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Maasai Ceremonial Kudu Horn Trumpet Emaalo

Maasai Ceremonial Kudu Horn Trumpet Emaalo

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Maasai people, late 19th or early 20th century, Kenya or Tanzania.

Magnificent and aged side-blown Greater Kudu horn trumpet are blown by the Maasai warriors (morans) or boys (ilaiyiok) about to go for initiation (emurata) and for signalling between villages. Trumpet are blown via a side opening and emitting a low, strong clear tone like a trombone. By blowing with this trumpet, warriors are assigned to prepare themselves for an upcoming battle. The sound is taken very seriously and has a significant affect. In addition, when a warrior kills a lion for ritual (olamaiyio), trumpet will be blown to announce that he is or they are coming home. The emouo is also sounded on when a boy is circumcised, kudu horn (emaalo) are used to mobalise the boys for ceremony (enkipaata-emouwuo orkiteng) to mark the conclusion of their boyhood. Side-blown trumpets are seen generational, used by a particular age group and can also be a important gift from one generation to another. Greater Kudu horn trumpets are often decorated with lion tails and cowrie shell straps.

Maasai are an indigenous ethnic group inhabiting northern, central and southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. The pastoral Maasai are fully nomadic, wandering in bands throughout the year and subsisting almost entirely on the meat, blood and milk of their herds. The measure of a man's wealth is in terms of cattle and children. The monotheistic Maasai worship a supreme being and creator known as Enkai and serves as the guardian over rain, fertility, love and the sun. Enkai has a dual nature: Enkai Narok (Black God) is benevolent, and Enkai Na-nyokie (Red God) is vengeful. It was Enkai who gave cattle to the Maasai people. There are also lesser deities like Neiterkob, the mediator between God and men. Goddess of the Moon (Olapa) is married to Enkai.

Impressive old trumpet are in excellent condition. Age-related wear and signs of long usage. Polished deep dark patina. Abrasion and scratches. Size approx. 56,0cm x 6,5cm x 8,0cm.

Provenance: Finnish private collection

For a similar example see:

The Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, Accession number: 1904.34.14 (

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