Basket making is part of an age-old sacred tradition within many Zulu communities, carried out for the purpose of storing grains and/or special medicinal herbs. Based in KwaZulu Natal, the artist that we work with began to weave baskets when she was 8 years old. Today she has passed the skill on to members of her own community, enabling them to make a living from their newfound skill while keeping a dying tradition alive.
To make her famous baskets, the artist first gathers grass and ilala palm. Then leaves, roots and berries are collected to create natural dyes before weaving the materials into baskets. Once fully washed and dried the palm is cut into pieces before it is woven to adorn the baskets in traditional colours and patterns. All the designs and patterns that she creates around the baskets are symbolic, either incorporating scenes from her rural environment or geometric designs typical of Zulu beadwork.
She has won many awards for her unique designs and hand-crafted pieces, all made with locally gathered, natural dyed, indigenous ilala palm grass.