As part of my local shopping guide, I would like to introduce you to some of my favourite artists in Graz. First up is Samburu Beads!
These stunning colourful necklaces, earrings and bracelets are made by the wonderful artist Peninah Lesorogol and the women from her Samburu tribe in Kenya. They are made from real glass beads and the materials are locally sourced, for example the leather comes from their own cows. The women make these pieces with such pride and are so happy to share them with us in Graz. The necklaces represent the circle of life and when a piece is worn abroad they feel a connection that binds us all together and a sharing of humanity – one of their many strong values.
Beaded jewelry is a central part of the Samburu culture and pieces are handed down from one generation to another. Beads reflect their place in society (for example if they are married, a warrior or an elder). Many of Peninah’s pieces are based on traditional Samburu colour designs but she also has modern designs inspired by her life in Graz. Some patterns such as the rainbow feel totally modern but the rainbow is also an strong motif in the Samburu culture as it signifies the all-important rain.
Peninah has extended her line into making lovely soft sweatshirts, wrap around scarfs, kids ponchos, wine bottle holders, table mats, bowls and much more. Plus the traditional shuka cloths which can be used as blankets or tablecloths – the bright colours are intended to scare the wild animals away!
Peninah remains closely connected to her tribe and is a role model which she takes very seriously. Especially for the girls as she was the first girl from her village to go to school and graduate university. The proceeds from her jewelry sales help the girls pay for their schools fees (normally only the boys receive an education). She is also a strong advocate against FGM and arranged marriage and education is a big part of raising awareness to inspire change and empower women. Most of all she is a proud ambassador for her Samburu people and sharing their culture and community spirit. You can read more about the Samburu tribe in her blog posts.
It was such a pleasure to met Peninah! Her warmth, joyful personality and love for the Samburu people are reflected in all her pieces. You can see some of her work in the Bohemian Soul Beehive or Kwirl shops, or on-line at Samburu Beads. You can also follow her on Instagram to see new pieces and keep a look out on facebook for future workshops and markets.