Using Prown Method to Learn Maasai Jewels

What is Prown Method?

Prown Method is a way to get to know material culture and then remake products of that culture. There are 3 main steps:

1. Description.

First take a look at the artifact. Then talk about what it looks like. For example, what material it is using, what color it is, what configuration it is, etc. No subjective assumptions or conclusions from other experience is allowed. It’s easier to start with 2 dimensional elements to 3 dimensional composition.

2. Deduction

Try to experience with the artifact. How the artifact works? Where should it be placed? How does it interact with people?  How it influence on your emotion? Come out with conclusions or even guesses.

3. Speculation

What the articraft means in the culture? Do some research on reliable learning sources. Is the assumption so far right or wrong?

So let’s start with Maasai bride’s jewels!

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They are jewels made of numerous tiny beads, several metal flakes, leather, and of course, thread. Although made by different artists, they are using the same color pallete.

Colors are used very thoughtfulIly. Sometimes artists use a big mass of a color, sometimes they make beads into small patterns. “Blocks of color are often finished off with a black and white rim of beads, a frame that is associated with a need for a break or cut (–description from SAM)”. And colors look more shiny and vivid by the medium of beads. Overall, much attention is paid to control the shape and amount of colors, just as what Greeks did in Geometric Period.



This is what they will be like on a Maasai bride. The exact number of beads may not be accurate.



The ornaments can be more complicated in real life. For example, the triangle ornament on the head can be larger and higher And I find some earings that have very different structures. The colors have meanings. Red means blood and war (that’s why the red is saturated so much). Blue means sky and sea. White means purity and milk. Green means plants. Orange is a feminine color (though men also wear it).

Here’s a Maasai wedding vedio:

The bride showed at 6’27” in the middle of the screen.



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