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Identifier: Film Collection no. 262

Scope and Contents

Filmed during the Edgar M. Queeny-AMNH African Expedition, 1953. This film was made in Narok, approximately 100 miles west of Nairobi, Kenya. It contains extensive zoological footage, as well as a rich ethnographic portrait of the moran, the warriors of Masai society. The moran are different in appearance from other Masai in that, while Masai shave their heads, the moran braid their hair, grease it heavily and smear it with red ocher; they also wear a sheet of calico knotted over their shoulders, and carry an olalem (short sword). They are seen, at their olpul, or feasting camp, killing an ox, collecting its blood and mixing it with berries. Then they cook the meat and consume both meat and blood at the same time. The drink, added to a brew made of acacia bark, is supposed to make the moran more fearless in their raids against neighbors to steal their cattle. One such raid is depicted in the film. Queeny was able to film the unoto, a ceremony during which junior moran become senior and the senior moran become elders. It is only held once every seven years and the one shown here is an assembly of about 500 moran and their families. A manyatta, or community of dwellings, is erected in a large rectangle within which an esingera (a circular hut made of branches and dung) is built. Many oxen are sacrificed during the unoto; some are fed honey beer and smothered with a beaded leather bag. The esingera is open only to worthy moran and there is a riot pictured as moran rush to the hut, during which time, the narration speculates, several will be killed. The unoto goes on for several days, during which sacrificing cattle and dancing are the main events. The numba, a jumping dance, is seen as well as other dances that are accompanied by a musical instrument made of kudu horns. Also seen is the enkipaata, the dance of the moran. The dancers wear ostrich feather headdresses, vulture feather neckpieces, colobus monkey skins, bells on their legs, and olowarus, lion mane headdresses. During the unoto the senior moran have their heads shaved. A lion hunt follows. After the kill, several men go into convulsions, owing to the acacia brew and the excitement of the hunt. Many animals are shown, including lions, vultures, zebras, wildebeests, rhinoceroses, waterbucks, Thomson's gazelles, impalas, giraffes, Egyptian geese, crowned cranes, marabou storks, crocodiles, hippopotamuses, elephants, hyenas, storks, pelicans, malachite kingfishers, ostriches, warthogs, mongooses, and jackals.


  • 1953

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (123 minutes) : sound, color ; 16 mm.

2 Videocassettes (U-Matic (123 minutes)) : sound, color ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 16 mm. print.



Edgar M. Queeny, producer and photographer; Jack Clink, Donald Ker, R. E. Bishop and M. Turner, photographers; Jack Clink and Donald Ker, assistants to the producer; C. Benson and F. Eschen, narrators; A. J. Dyer, sound; produced and re-recorded at the Jarville Studios.

Masailand, 1953
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
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