Dress code for the Kalenjin people

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The Kalenjin warriors in the 19th century. Photo/Courtesy

The Kalenjin people were not elaborately dressed. Young children would be seen playing completely naked in the fields. Albeit men may not have been ashamed to be seen naked by other men, an approaching woman would send them rushing for their garments.

On the other hand, women were always well covered. Girls wore garments made of strips of leather decorated with a cowrie shell. Boys wore a goat’s skin and a necklace of beads, locally known as sonoek. Men’s standard dress was a garment made of two to three pieces of goat or calf’s skin sewn together locally known as koliget.

Married women wore two types of garments. The lower garment played the role of a skirt locally called chepkaut and the upper garment called koliget. Generally, women were colorfully and tastefully dressed.

Old men put on garments made of fur from a different type of animal skins, locally called sambut. The followingwere some of the garments for the Kalenjin people;

Karnet ab tamok

Bracelets of copper coils worn by old women on the upper arms and wrists.


Metal ornaments decorated with beads. It was worn by women on the upper part of the ears.

Muiywet-ab it

Decorated leader bands (always in pairs) worn by a woman on the pierced earlobes especially in certain ceremonies as status symbols.


Leather belt is worn specifically by married women.


Leather headdress decorated with ostrich feathers, worn mainly warriors.


Garments worn by female initiates during the seclusion period.


Coils of a copper wire decorated with cowrie shells and connected by a wire on the woman’s chest.


Long, decorated ceremonial item used by women.


Flywhisk made from a bull’s tail is used by elders as part of ceremonial regalia.


Ear ornaments which are worn by men.


A long ceremonial leather garment decorated with cowrie shells worn by elderly women on special occasions.


Ornament of beads worn by women on special events.


Ceremonial stuff which was used by a suitor’s father during the visit to the bride’s home.


A flywhisk made of wildebeest tail carried by a girl preparing for initiation.


Ostrich feather was worn by warriors on the battlefield.


Cowrie shells are used to decorate various items.  

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