Basket weaving

Basket weaving is an age-long art that is prominent in several African societies. It is a well-respected skill that is usually transferred from one generation to the next and has survived to this day. This work of art is mainly done by women in rural societies who use this skill to fend for themselves and their families

The raw materials used in producing these baskets are determined by the environment in which the people reside. Many of these organic materials are gotten from fibrous trees and plant roots such as; Illala palm, sisal leaves, raffia, vines, banana leaves, cane, bark wood and papyrus. Talking Through Art TTA mainly uses Sisal fibre and local dried grass.

Nowadays, while the methods of the basket weaving are still held in regard, the materials used in production have significantly changed from natural fibres to include man-made creations like plastic, wire and recycled products.

The techniques used are often quite complex and are similar to the methods used in textile weaving they also differ from one country to another.

The major basket weaving techniques are: coiling, plating, twining and cross or checkerboard weaving technique.

Before the actual weaving takes place, the plant fibres have to be cleaned, gathered in strips and sometimes dyed with natural plant dyes before it is then woven in special geometric patterns and designs. Some of these patterns have special meanings attached to them.

The size, shape and depth of the baskets are determined by the purpose for which it is meant for. Originally these woven baskets were used for storage of agricultural produce and other household items but in modern times they are been used as decorative items and a form of contemporary art.

In 2016, while searching for materials in the Ruhango district, we came across women with physical disabilities who were already experienced weavers. We have keenly incorporated them into TTA and they are now an indispensable part of our basket-weaving team. They are in total 30 women and the number is growing. In May 2018, we have launched English classes thought by Peace Corps Volunteers, working and living in Southern province.

We have approached a new group of 35 women in and around Rwamagana town in June 2019 and started training them in basket weaving. Most of these women were just staying at home, some of them even hiding because of their disabilities. We have now given them a new hope and they are all excited to learn and produce beautiful crafts.