Broken SpearsElizabeth Gilbert
7 April 2004
Published by Atlantic Books
A moving photographic journey into the vanishing culture of the Maasai warriors of Kenya and Tanzania.
When photojournalist Elizabeth Gilbert first came into contact with the Maasai over ten years ago, their images were everywhere in Africa. Pictures of warriors were printed on postcards, T-shirts, safari advertisements, and hotel logos, but in reality their traditional life was disappearing. So Gilbert set out on a four-year journey to photograph what was left of traditional Maasailand.
Broken Spears is the stunning result of that remarkable journey. Over 120 images capture the rituals, secret ceremonies, and landscapes of the Maasai, documenting the life of this extraordinary tribe in the most comprehensive collection of photographs ever assembled. Gilbert’s intimate relationship with the Maasai allowed her to photograph centuries-old Maasai ceremonies, including male and female circumcisions, weddings, and perhaps the most dangerous of all Maasai rituals, a lion hunt. Broken Spears is a haunting testament to a rapidly disappearing way of life.
‘A skilled, intimate, and remarkable portrayal of an enigmatic culture that goes well beyond the usual stereotypical treatment of the Maasai. Gilbert’s work is a valuable contribution to the honorable photographic tradition of tribal studies.’ — Peter Matthiessen