Maasai African Art form Kenya and Tanzania.
It is generally stored and carried in long, decorated gourds which are washed with urine (despite our western preconceptions, urine is totally sterile when fresh, and thus acts as a mild antiseptic). Milk itself - the gift of Ngai's cattle - is symbolized on ceremonial occasions by the application of a mixture of white chalk and water to the bodies of participants.
Once a month, blood is also taken from living animals, usually to be mixed with milk. This is done as follows: a noose is tightened around a cow's neck, causing the jugular vein to swell. A short blunt arrow with a 1cm tip and its shaft bound with twine, is then fired at close range from a loosely-strung bow to puncture the vein. The blood which spurts out is caught in a gourd. The wound is not fatal and is stopped afterwards with a wad of mud and dung to stop the bleeding: all in all, not that different from people giving blood. The Maasai believe the blood makes them very strong. Curdled blood is called osaroi.
The Maasai believe that Ngai (God) entrusted all the world's cattle to them for safe-keeping when the earth and sky split at the beginning of time, and this is how they justify raiding cattle from other tribes. The story goes that Ngai (a name synonymous with sky) was once one with the earth. Then earth and sky separated, and Ngai delivered cattle to the Maasai by means of the aerial roots of the wild fig tree, which is sacred.
For the Maasai, cattle are everything: food, material, culture, ritual. Cattle are life. "I hope your cattle are well", they say in greeting.
More than any other Kenyan people, the pastoralist Maasai are a cattle-herders par excellence. Cattle provide almost everything they need for survival, and much more besides. They are a symbol of wealth and a source of pride, and a person's entire life revolves around the herds: the need to pasture and care for them, the need to protect them, and the need to move with them in search of fresh pasture and water.