Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1901 Turkana warrior
Subjecttribal warrior
Culture: Turkana
Setting: east Africa 19th-early 20thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Life in Turkana 2012-01-08 online
"Warfare is traditionally an essential part of Turkana life and the principal occupation of young men. Weapons are considered a man’s proud possessions and the practical tool for increasing herds by raiding and for expanding their territory. Ever since they entered Kenya, the Turkana have been in a perpetual process of expansion. Previously settled tribes such as the Samburu, Pokot, Donyiro, Toposa and Karamojong were forced out of their territory by belligerent Turkana warriors (Gulliver, 1951: 143). No administration has ever able completely to contain the Turkana and put an end to these conflicts. These common age-old pursuits still trouble independent Kenya.
    "Turkana believe that all livestock on earth, including that owned by other people, is theirs by right, and that there is nothing wrong in going after it and taking it by force. A young man, they say, must be prepared to die in pursuit of stock (Soper, 1985: 106). Meanwhile neighbouring tribes feel the same way about stock and raid the Turkana. After such raids the Turkana feel compelled to recover their stolen animals. This creates a vicious circle of conflicts and banditry which seems to find no solution even at government level.
    "[....]  Traditionally, in the past war leaders were never officially appointed. Instead men with outstanding personality, ability and courage came to be recognized as such by their fellow tribesmen (Gulliver, 1951: 144). Raids were either carried out by a small-scale marauding force or as a large-scale attack involving different columns and possibly an alliance with another tribe (Gulliver, 1951: 79). Men were called to arms and, on large-scale raids, usually sought the blessing of a diviner who may have had favourable dreams of large numbers of accessible cattle in a certain area. Participation was generally confined to initiated men, although youths were on some occasions taken along as drovers."

* Peers ill. Ruggieri 2005 p

* Spring 1993 p


​* Life in Turkana 2012-01-08 online
"Turkana wordkwara (a- nga) pl. ngakwaaras  Phonological transcription: akwara; Nakwaras  Grammatical category: n.fem.  English equivalent: spear
    "The Turkana spear is made and used exclusively by male members of the tribe. The spear head (eporoto) and the spear shoe (erimoc) are made of iron. Iron pieces are bought and further shaped and cut using a harder chisel-shaped iron blade. The shaft (amorok or atinget) is usually carved from the ekali (Grewia bicolor) tree. The blade (etwel or angajep) is covered with a protective sheath (akuroru) made of cow’s hide. (The hide of the tail of a donkey may sometimes be used.) The spear and the shaft are joined with the resin (eminae) of the eroronyit (Balinites aegyptiaca) tree. The sticky substance is applied to the tip of the shaft and in the sockets, and heated over a fire. Spears are usually eight feet long and leaf-bladed.
In the past a man acquired a spear as an initiate. This usually came as a gift from the youth’s ceremonial patron-sponsor (Gulliver,1951: 129). This man, usually of an older generation, equipped the young initiate with the essentials for a Turkana man, i.e., spear, stool and sandals, from his own possessions. This close relationship between the two usually continued for life.
    "The spear is used for fighting, hunting wild animals (such as dik-dik and gazelles), killing animals during rituals (wedding and death rituals) and may also be utilised to carve sticks. The umbilical cord of a baby boy is cut using a spear, whereas a knife is used for that of a baby girl. Spears may sometimes be used to curse a person who has committed a wrongful deed (such as animal rustling or homicide). In this case the spear is thrown in a westerly direction. The Turkana believe that the victim will eventually die.
    "It does not appear to be a taboo to break a spear. When a spear breaks the broken part is substituted with a new one. It is interesting to note where the spears are kept at home. Unlike, for instance, the Maasai, who plant their spears besides the doorway, the Turkana keep theirs pierced from wall to wall in the house (Fedders &Salvadori, 1977)."


* Spring 1993 p

* Peers ill. Ruggieri 2005 p