According to Maasai oral history and archaeological records, they originated in Central Tanzania. They are semi-nomadic pastoralists and young Maasai boys, though occasionally girls, are responsible for tending to the herds. They often live in small camps, moving frequently in constant search of water and suitable grazing lands.
Maasai are well known for their intricate and colorful beadwork, which plays an essential element in the ornamentation of their body. Beading patterns are determined by each person’s age and grade. Young men often paint their bodies in red ocher to enhance their appearances. They may spend hours or days working on ornate hairstyles, which are then ritually shaved off as they pass into the next age/grade. Though they tend to live clustered together, Maasai often travel into towns and cities to purchase goods and supplies as well as to sell their cattle and beadwork.