Datoga clothing and the practice of body modification
Datoga clothing has some elements in common with that of neighbouring tribes, made famous by tourism, such as the Maasai, with whom the Datoga share the usage of red cloths as capes or garments.
Datoga style usually reminds of the typical colours of the land where they live; this means their garments are predominantly auburn in colour and they are embellished with objects made from hide and beautiful jewelry.
Datoga women wear the traditional hide or fabric cape that they use to protect themselves from the cold savannah nights; under the cape they wear beaded garments or very soft and well-tanned lamb-hide cloacks.
Married women also wear a special gown made of thin leather strips.
Objects made from hide take on an auburn hue thanks to a tanning treatment featuring a paste obtained by mixing red sand and animal butter.
The Datoga love ornaments and the jewelry, they usually create, is made from copper, iron and colourful beads; they wear numerous necklaces, bracelets and heavy pendant earrings that often end up stretching and deforming earlobes.
Earlobe stretching is a wanted and desired effect and it is not the only form of body modification practiced by this tribe.
Girls show flashy designs on their faces and backs, made by marking their skin, those which may look like tattoos at first glance are actually more or less marked scarifications, this depends on how deep the incisions made in the skin and flesh are; some women, after being scarified, cut themselves deeper to mark the designs even more.
Face scarification consists of a circular shape around the eyes, as a kind of mask identifying immediately a person who belongs to a certain family and, in a broader way, to the Datoga ethnic group.
During the colonial age this scarification around the eyes took on another significance that proved very effective to avoid the “attention” of the Germans who did not like tattooed or scarified bodies.