- You will receive the exact basket pictured above, woven by Thembi Mchunu.
- Smaller Ukhamba baskets like this one are sometimes called “beer baskets.” Ilala palm baskets are still used for liquid storage in some rural areas of South Africa. Watertight baskets are readied by rubbing wet cornmeal inside. When liquid is added, the coils swell. Some liquid leaks through the coils and evaporates, which cools the contents.
- As part of Zulu wedding traditions, the bride’s family gifts large ukhambas to the groom’s family in exchange for a gift of cattle. The patterns on the side of a basket indicate how many cattle the bride’s family expects.
- These baskets are all-natural; dyes are made from materials as diverse as flower petals and mud. Some colors are very rare due to the scarcity of certain minerals. Other colors are only available seasonally, when specific flowers bloom.
- Collecting these baskets in Zululand, South Africa is challenging, requiring the traversal of hundreds of miles of dirt roads between remote villages, collecting baskets hut to hut from dozens of individual weavers
- The quality of weaving and size of basket combine to determine prices on these stunning creations.
- Dimensions are approximate, but we do strive to get the measurements accurate within 1/2 inch. Please review the size of this item carefully using a ruler or tape measure before your purchase. See our Shopping FAQs for more information.
Weaving Zulu Ilala Palm Baskets in South Africa
The age-old tradition of basket weaving is usually passed down from grandmother to granddaughter. This helps to preserve Zulu culture as the grandmothers have the opportunity to recite oral history and stories to the younger generations as they all weave together.