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What to Buy in Tanzania?

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                                  Ideas for Memorable Gifts and Souvenirs

Are you going on a trip and wondering what to buy in Tanzania? Then probably  you must be asking yourself What to Buy in Tanzania? Tanzania is a country situated to the east of Africa whose main tourist attraction and source of income are safaris.  However, it also stands out for its bright and colorful crafts which are handmade by the area’s tribes.

A souvenir, memento, keepsake, or token of remembrance, is an object a person acquires for the memories the owner associates with it. A souvenir can be any object that can be collected or purchased and transported home by the traveler or tourist as a memento of a visit.

Shopping Advice

It is highly advised that you purchase Tanzanian souvenirs preferably in the Maasai villages themselves. You can visit them in different areas such as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the south of the Serengeti or the Esalali Women’s Project in Karatu which is located between the Crater and Lake Manyara. This way, you contribute to boosting the women’s cooperatives and the local Maasai economy.

Buying through Bargain

If you already know what to buy in Tanzania, now you need to learn to haggle.  Many tourists find haggling difficult because they aren’t used to it and they feel aggressive or uncomfortable when buying using this method.  However, it is a habitual custom and something which is assumed and expected, even in souvenir shops.  In order to do it like an expert, firstly you should offer the seller half of what they are asking for.The shop assistant will be alarmed and will exaggerate their outrage to then make you another offer.  It is important to be friendly, negotiate calmly and with a sense of humor.  If you’re not convinced of the offer or you don’t manage to agree a price, you can try in another place. You just need to drop the shame of haggling to end up enjoying it.

Buying through exchange

Exchanging objects is also habitual in Tanzania and you can reach an agreement by exchanging products.  You probably have objects that you don’t mind letting go of and which are of great value to the Maasai. Footwear, a watch you don’t use, a hat or a t-shirt you are bored of, etc.  They are things that they may be willing to swap for a Maasai blanket or a beaded trinket. Since you know which the traditional products of Tanzania are and where to find them, you can plan your trip to Tanzania. Below we offer you a plenty of traditional products from Tanzania that you should make space in your suitcase :

What to Buy in Tanzania?

Maasai Blankets/ Shuka: A Maasai blanket is traditionally called a shuka or a Masai shuka. It is a vibrant and colorful cloth worn by the Maasai people of East Africa. The shuka is made of thick cotton or wool and features bold patterns and bright colors, often red, blue, and black.Maasai shuka resembles to Kitenge, the story of this traces back to colonial era where Scottish missionaries were brought blankets to the nomadic Maasai society. Nowadays Maasai shuka have been modified to different colors and have been widely used in making other kinds of clothes like shirts, trousers, and shorts.

Wood and Leather: The Maasai are also skilled craftsman of leather and wood.  They work with different types of wood although ebony is the most valued.  You can find masks, figures, decorative carvings and objects made of leather such as baskets, sandals, wallets, etc.  It is a good option if you’re not sure what to buy in Tanzania.

Tanzanite: Tanzanite is the blue and violet variety of the mineral zoisite, caused by small amounts of vanadium. Tanzanite belongs to the epidote mineral group. Tanzanite is only found in Simanjiro District of Manyara Region in Tanzania, in a very small mining area approximately 7 km long and 2 km wide near the Mererani Hills. Tanzanite is found in sausage-shaped formations. Tanzanite is impressive gem that comes to life in a couple of earrings, a stunning and special tanzanite jewelry has become sought after all the world.Tanzanite jewelry is loved entire the world, tanzanite rings in particular, being a popular choice for jewelry enthusiasts.

Culture Bracelets: Archaeologists were able to date back the earliest bracelet to 7,500 BC found in Turkey. It was made of obsidian. Bracelets became popular as far back as 5000 BCE, in Egypt. There have been bracelets found in Russia that are thought to be over 40,000 years old .Tanzania is a country with more than 120 tribes that have developed to a wide range of location and subjected to different weather and climate change, after undergoing different social changes they adapted hand craft skills. A far People wear their jewelry both as a display of their wealth and as adornments of beauty, most notably on special occasions such as wedding day. Most famous culture bracelets in Tanzania are Maasai traditional bracelets and jewelry in Village market, Tanzania.

TingaTinga Paintings: Tingatinga is a painting style that originated in East Africa. Tingatinga is one of the most widely represented forms of tourist-oriented paintings in Tanzania, Kenya and neighboring countries. The genre is named after its founder, Tanzanian painter Edward Tingatinga. Nowadays Tinga Tinga African Paintings You can buy via Tinga Arts cooperative society website.

Makonde African Sculptures: The Makonde are renowned for their prowess in wood carving. Their elaborate masks and figurines recount generational stories. And they are also known for their expressive facial tattoos. The Makonde are a matrilineal society who trace descent through the female line.The Makonde sculptures are made up of the African black wood trees, always when people think of African art, they are thinking of Makonde sculpture. Makonde tribe ethnically lived in Southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique. Almost all of the Makonde sculptures are carved from a single block of wood no matter how complex the design.Early Makonde carvings were functional items hair combs, household necessities nowadays the carvings become more expressive and decorative in nature. Sculptures are also used with the ambition to educate, entertain daily routine life activities and teach about village life.

Today sculptures are used to preserve traditional aspects of human kind even though many carvers are inevitable are influenced by demand of African Culture to the world.

Vitenge/Chitenge and Kanga: A kitenge or chitenge is an East African, West African and Central African piece of fabric similar to a sarong, often worn by women and wrapped around the chest or waist, over the head as a headscarf, or as a baby sling. Kitenges are made of colorful fabric that contains a variety of patterns and design and The Kanga is a colorful fabric similar to kitenge, but lighter, worn by women and occasionally by men throughout the African Great Lakes region. It is a piece of printed cotton fabric, about 1.5 m by 1 m, often with a border along all four sides, and a central part which differs in design from the borders .These are pure cotton fabric similar to a sarong, mostly worn by Women and Young Women wrapped around the chest or waist over the head as a head scarf or as a baby sling.Kitenge and Kanga are colorful piece of fabric and flexible and can be designed and sewn is different styles it can be simple pants, jacket, top, a dress, a skirt, pants, romper and swimming costume.It is informal and inexpensive fabric with uniqueness border and street slums slogans in Swahili Languages and slangs.

Kikoys:If you don’t know what to buy in Tanzania, another interesting option are kikoys. They are beautiful cotton fabrics used as a sarong in the hottest regions of East Africa. Both men and women use them wrapped around the waist as a skirt or trousers They can be found in different colours, dyed with natural dyes.  The kikoy also has ancient origins which date back to the trade relations that the Arabian merchants have had on the Eastern coast of Africa in the last twelve centuries.  In spite of it being of Arab heritage, throughout all of this time, the kikoy has acquired its own personality, as well as extending its uses.  And as well as its use as clothing, kikoys are used as turbans, scarves, table cloths, parasols, towels, curtains, to make a bundle or even to filter coffee.

Maasai crafts:Maasai crafts are another of the typical Tanzanian products that have travelled the world.  The bracelets, necklaces or other types of trinkets, made of coloured beads are characteristic of this tribe and are a must-have to wear in any country and continent.  They are handmade by the Maasai women.  Other interesting craft pieces are the sticks of the Maasai leaders or the spears of the warriors.  They are also handmade and decorated with coloured beads. The Maasai know that we love their crafts and each time they expand their offer, so that you can find lots of different items.

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