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Take home a 400-year-old piece of island history immortalised in some handmade jewellery or pick up an array of rainbow-coloured kikois for all your friends with our guide to shopping in Lamu.
Aman provides the ultimate barefoot-luxe shopping excursion in Lamu. The heavy dark wooden doors of this island boutique are flanked by donkeys drinking from low troughs, so you’ll have to charm these hoofed locals to gain entry. Slip off your sandals and walk on the cool limestone floors while you peruse beautiful Indian and Kenyan kaftans, leather accessories and handmade Maasai jewellery. The changing room of this upmarket bohemian concept store opens out into charming tropical courtyard, complete with Swahili architectural elements – the perfect sun spot for Aman’s two affectionate feline residents. If you’re in the market for some bespoke clothing, visit the gentleman sitting at the old-fashioned sewing machine beneath the African pop-art by the counter, who’ll have you looking sharp in no time.
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Isiah’s Wooden Fish Workshop
Even if you’re not planning to buy, you must pop into Isiah’s workshop to witness his extraordinary craftsmanship first hand. Using driftwood pieces and parts of disused dhows (often speckled with holes made by marine worms) he masterfully creates quirky wall hangings, predominantly in the shape of fish. His pieces are stocked by many high-end European interior design shops and you’ll no doubt soon decide you are buying after all…
Kikois are the unisex Kenyan uniform and once you have sauntered around the island with one around your waist for a few days you will be converted for life. Doubling up as head scarves, shoulder coverings (handy when visiting Lamu Old Town), baby slings, beach and bath towels – you name it, you need several in your life. Don’t let the kitsch exterior signage of this unassuming curio store in Shela put you off. Aalyshah Design are purveyors of a varied array of kikois and prices are comparative to those of mainland Nairobi fabric shops.
Remnants of a 15th-century shipwreck carrying Chinese and Dutch pottery continue to wash up on the shores of Lamu and are used for anything from pavement tiling to fine jewellery. Mohammed Silversmith transforms these ceramic pieces into gorgeous silver pendants and rings, allowing you to take home a 400-year-old piece of island history. Stop by first thing in the morning to ensure you have the pleasure of meeting the gregarious salesman, then have your jewellery fitted and washed in the traditional way using indigenous soap seeds, then buffed by hand.
Isiah’s Wooden Fish Workshop
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