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Page history last edited by Barbara Allen 13 years, 7 months ago

The Turkana men use hand made neckrest to avoid disturbing their elaborate hair styles when they lie down.  They always carry the neckrest with them. The neckrests are hand carved, beautifully made, and always have a carrying handle. The neckrest also doubles as a stool.


Turkana Proverbs

Name Turkana
Location Kenya
Population 300,000
Language Turkana, a Nilotic language     
Type of Culture Pastoralist

The Turkana people emerged as a distinct ethnic group sometime during the early to middle decades of the nineteenth century. 



Around 400 years ago, the Turkana tribes migrated into Kenya from north-eastern Uganda.


Current status

Since many things have changed and for over sixty years, the Turkana remained untouched by the benefits and disadvantages of the twentieth century, they are now facing the consequences of having to quickly embrace a Western lifestyle which is destroying the culture of their people. (FPA Staff)

HIV prevalence is increasing in the Turkana area (7%-9%). Turkana are somewhat more at risk because of body decoration done with unsterilized razor. Polygamy is common.


Artwork most prevalent The Turkana cling to elaborate traditions when it comes to fashion. Women wear colorful beads that reflect their wealth, marital status, and social standing. They take great pains in arranging their hair, shaving their heads except for a patch of small braids which are sometimes dyed as an orange red mohawk.. Men make and carry small stools, known as ekicholongs, which serve both as seats and pillows.
Artwork's distinguishing characteristics Simplicity. Repitition. Circles. Decoration of body and of functional items. Materials are leather, wood, gourds,horns, hooves, and ligaments of herd animals, beads (imported or ostrich shell), feathers, especially ostrich feathers. Women wear many, many rings of beads around their neck, colors are bright and primary, yellows, reds, oranges, browns, blacks, sometimes greens and blues. Random leather patches decorate the hems of leather cloaks. Women wear many earrings. Men wear a mud cap colored blue. Men wear a few strings of beads and no more than 2 earrings.
Traditional foods  Milk, cattle blood, meat, maize



Fedders, Andrew, and Cynthia Salvadori.  Turkana pastoral craftsmen.  Nairobi, Kenya: Transafrica Book Distributors in association with East African Literature Bureau, 1977.


Ifemesia, Chieka.  Turkana.  New York: Rosen Publishing Group, Inc, 1996.

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