Having buried a piece of cow hide the previous day, Nakiru uncovers it and cuts out the rough shapes of two shoes. As Loura, her husband, works on a spear hide cover using pieces form the same hide, she crafts the soles of a pair of shoes.
Rights ownerSamuel Frederick Derbyshire
ParticipantsMargaret Nakiru Lopwenya , Loura Echuman Ekaale, Ekale Anam Lomekiniya
Item/objectCow skin shoes (ngamuk)
Techniques of productionCut-cut
Materials altEleu a aite
Cultural context/eventGeneral production
Social group settingCraftspeople working together
TemporalityAlthough once ubiquitous throughout Turkana, animal skin shoes are no longer worn by the vast majority of the population in Turkana, having disappeared from daily use throughout the second half of the 20th century when hard strips of old rubber tyre came to be regularly repurposed and crafted into shoes. Nevertheless, cow skin shoes remain a fundamental component of the asapan initiation ceremony, in which a pair are crafted when the initiate reaches the home of his asapan father and gives away all of his clothes and possessions. Similarly, cow skin shoes continue to play a central role in the akinyonyo ceremony (a female rite of passage performed shortly before marriage), where the natal and the marital homestead each provide a single cow skin shoe for the soon-to-be bride. Thus, in the present day those with the knowledge and ability to craft cow skin shoes tend only to deploy this particular skill in ritual/ceremonial contexts.
Date of creation2020-04-19