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Research and exhibition

maasai women master builders

from ololosokwan

About the exhibition

Background to the Maasai's life are the stunningly beautiful plains of the Serengethi and Mara. It is the Maasai women's sole responsibility to build and maintain their trationals huts, called Enkaji. The exhibition at the Frauenmuseum Hittisau presents ten exemplary biographies of Maasai women builders form Tanzanian Ololosokwan and the buildings created by them. It offers unique insights into the fascinating life of Maasai women from the perspective of building culture.

Enkaji – the Building Process

Maasai families live in polygamous family associations. Each wife has got her onw hut (Enkaji), built by herself. Up to two grown-ups, six children and young stock share a space of about 25m2, divided into six rooms. How does this work? And how do they construct these dwellings out of branches, earth, ash, sand, cow manure, urine and water)? How are women's individual physical proportions reflected in the buildings? Why is the interior so very dark? These are only a few of the issues addressed by the exhibition.

The research project on Maasai women builders was enabled by the Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky scholarship awarded by the Austrian Federal Chancellery and has started with a design workshop for the Maasai Community Art Space in Ololosokwan, Tanzania of the University of Liechtenstein.

Photo credits: Karin Nussbaumer and Cornelia Faißt

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