This basket is a beautiful rounded shape, the pattern is made up of rows of large diamonds in contrasting colors of chocolate brown, cream, and black. The weave on this basket is very tight; this enables the basket to be watertight. Then lid has been woven with a corresponding color and design theme.
Hand made in Kwazulu Natal South Africa.
Feel the mystery and essence of Africa with these superb Zulu baskets, each one unique and lovingly hand stitched. In this age of modern technology and mass production, it is a joy to see and feel the dignified elegance and beauty of a rich Zulu heritage that has become a collectable art form, preserving an age old tradition proudly safe guarded and handed down through the generations.
Types of Baskets
UKHAMBA (Zulu Beer Basket)
A rigid bulb shaped container rendered watertight by the tightness of the coil weave, and the material used (Ilala Palm). Generally used to serve sorghum Beer on ceremonial occasions.
A small saucer shaped bowl traditionally woven with ilala palm and grass fibers. A modern version is woven out of telephone wire, resulting in a bright kaleidoscope of color and pattern and very collectible. The imbenge is used as a platter for serving dried foodstuffs, as well as used upside down to function as a lid or cover for the clay beer pots. When not in use it is hung up on the wall of the hust as part of the décor.
A ridgid bottle shaped basket used for carrying liquids. It often has a lid which fits over the neck like a cap. The same stitching technique is used as the Ukhamba, and it works on the same principle
A large basin shaped basket used for gatering and carrying grain. The smaller bowls are used for serving dry foods such as beans, fruit or nuts.
Materials Commonly used in Zulu basket weaving
Every basket is made by hand, using indigenous raw materials. The fronds of the Ilala Palm (Hyphaene Coriacea) are commonly used to weave the fine, watertight baskets, and dyes of vegetable origin (i.e. Roots, berries, bark, leaves) to color the palm. It can take up to one month to produce a medium sized basket that will be unique in size, shape and pattern.
The Zulu have their own particular style of traditional craftwork that is unique to their culture. One specialty is basket weaving. Baskets are created in a variety of styles and colors, are pleasing to the eye, and have significant practical value in traditional life. The baskets are hand woven using indigenous raw materials that vary in availability depending on the season. Some of these include grass stems, Ilala palm fronds, fine Isikonko grass and Imizi grass.
Designs are kinetically woven into the baskets to depict different meanings. Almost all designs revolve around combinations of the triangle denoting male, and the diamond shape for the female. Two triangles situated one above the other in an hour glass shape represents a married man while two diamonds set one above the other symbolizes a woman.
Common colors used in Zulu Baskets
All colors are natural, obtained from billing roots, leaves, berries and bark of indigenous flora. Many are seasonal.
Brown/Ububsende Palm leaves are placed into muddy soil and kept moist up to one week
Khaki/Mxuba Plam leaves soaked & boiled in a “sludgy” mixture of fresh cow dung and water
Black/Omniyama At first pre-colored in river mud there after boiled for 8 hours in a mixture of water and leaves from a small bushy tree named Umbuque
Lilac/Ubukhwebezane Leaves of a shrub crushed and boiled with palm for one hour
Pale red/Bomvu Leaves of tai shrub – specie of the Mphekam-bethu and bark of the Mgwneya tree, crushed together and boiled with palm for 2 days
Coral/Mgwenya The palm leaves are boied with aloe roots for 4-6hours
Purple/Umdoni The palm is boiled with the skin of ripe Umdoni berries for 4-5 hours
Burgundy/Isfixu Palm is boiled with the bark of the Marula tree for 1-2 hours
Orange/Xomisane Palm is boiled with the roots of a small plant for 2-4hours
Mustard/Icena The palm is soaked overnight with paste wood ash and water and then boiled for 5-7 hours
Grey/Uuba The palm is soaked in black mud for up to 1 week