Weaving African baskets

South African lady weaving a basket
South African lady weaving a basket

The other day I went to the museum of arts where I visited the Native American section, and realized that there was a strong difference between Native American baskets and African baskets. This is when I thought of discussing African baskets on my blog.

Wolof basket (Senegal)
Wolof basket (Senegal)

Well, first of all, you should know that African baskets are different from country to country. You will find out that West African baskets (Togo, Senegal, Ghana…) are different from Central African baskets (Cameroon, DRC, Burundi…), which are different from Southern African baskets (Zimbabwe, South Africa, etc…). This difference is mostly due to the fact that different ethnic groups inhabit those regions, like the bantus in the South, the Nilotes in the North, etc… plus our own experiences in life, and the climate give us different tools to make baskets.

Beaded Bamileke basket (Cameroon)
Beaded Bamileke basket (Cameroon)

For instance, in Cameroon (my country), baskets are made out of dried palm leaves, bark wood, or Raffia also known as African bamboo, in Rwanda they are made out of sisal fibers, banana leaves, or grass; in Senegal, njodax grass is used; while in South Africa, they are made out of llala palm leaves, sisal leaves, etc.

Burundi basket
Burundi basket

The styles and patterns on the baskets also vary from sub-regions on the African continent. Baskets are dyed with either natural plant pigments, bark, berries, leaves, clay, roots, dung, or tea leaves as well as with commercial dyes.

Zulu basket (South Africa)
Zulu basket (South Africa)

Weaving baskets is truly an art, and you can usually recognize which area and sometimes which country in Africa they are coming from.

The Handicraft Center in Dschang, Cameroon, has beautiful beaded baskets and other art work.

Please discover, and enjoy the art of making African baskets!

10 thoughts on “Weaving African baskets

  1. Pingback: Les petits metiers: le Vannier / Small Trades: the Basket-maker « African Heritage

      1. Definitely. I was really impressed with those basket pictures and it would be great to buy one of those from some of the local artisans or at the very least buy one that is sold at a fair trade shop.

        Like

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