Early in the nineteenth century most coastal workers in East Africa wore a simple unbleached calico loin cloth of some two yards called a shuka.
In time, the unbleached shuka became coloured, stained with red ochre or just with use and, as the Maasai tribe took it very much as their own, the weight of the material increased to that of a lightweight blanket, in keeping with the cold climate of Maasailand.
Even today you seldom see a Maasai man without his shuka, and red remains the prominent colour. Striped red shukas at worn by Maasai warriors, or moran; and the checked designs are worn by the elders, the Bomorit.
Although worn by the Maasai, the colourful shuka also makes an excellent throw, tablecloth, picnic blanket or an outdoor blanket to cover your shoulders on chilly night.