kikuyu arm shield

arm shield

 

arm shield
side view

 

arm shield
back view

 

The rite of passage into adulthood for both boys and girls is important to Kikuyu culture. The initiations of both sexes are separate affairs but both involve circumcision and the use of ...

The rite of passage into adulthood for both boys and girls is important to Kikuyu culture. The initiations of both sexes are separate affairs but both involve circumcision and the use of shields. The ceremony is called Irua and takes place between the ages of fifteen and eighteen.

 The boys wear the ndome shields during these dances to symbolise the adult warrior status they are about to acquire. After the dancing comes the surgical operation itself, performed at a special ritual location known as the Iteri.

 To preserve their family honour, the boys are expected to undergo the operation in silence. Several boys are circumcised at once and each new set of initiates (mwanake) is considered to be a distinct age set (rika). Each rika is given a group name and its members treat each other as brothers for life, and fight together in battle.

Undergoing Irua is attractive to Kikuyu boys for a number of reasons: An uncircumcised male (no matter how old) is prevented from owning possessions, socialising with adults, fighting as a warrior for the clan, marrying, or sleeping in the Thingira(a communal house for initiated young men )

If you are in Uganda, you can view the products in our shops:

Entebbe: c/o Anna's Corner
Queen's Road, Plot 12,
Open every day.

Kampala: c/o Hidden Treasures
Buganda Road 18
Open every day.

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