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Shop for Swazi Sisal Coil Woven Baskets | Swaziland Information

Swaziland, Southern Africa

Sisal Coil Woven Baskets

Basket Creation

Sisal Basket WeaverThese highly collectible baskets are handmade in Swaziland from sisal fibers. Weavers take an average of 30 hours to create an 8 inch basket which makes these one of the most labor intensive of all African baskets.

Coil weaving is the most difficult type. Sisal fibers are wrapped and then stitched over tiny bundles of grass. Controlling the thickness and evenness of the coils takes years of practice.

As a bowl gets larger, it takes exponentially more time to expand in diameter. The coils on each row become much longer as the bowl flares upwards and outwards. So adding an inch diameter at the top of the basket could actually take longer than the first several inches at the base of the basket. This is the reason baskets approaching a foot in diameter are more unusual and can take up to 120 hours to complete.

The Masterweavers

Only around two dozen iSwati masterweavers are capable of weaving baskets larger than 8 inches in diameter. Each large basket is a unique creation that is not repeated. The complex and intricate patterns are done without any planning or mathematical calculations. A natural talent for weaving one-of- a-kind patterns is a prerequisite for all masterweavers.

About Sisal

The sisal plant grows as a weed throughout Swaziland. It is a close relative to the yucca plants in the American Southwest that are used by Native Americans to weave their baskets. The sisal fibers are so known for strength that modern industry is increasingly using them as environmentally friendly strengthening agents to completely replace the normally used harmful substances.

The fibers are stripped out of leaves by scraping a used can or metal object over the leaf and against a piece of wood to remove the leaf pulp. Very thin fibers remain which are spun together to make long threads, perfect for weaving.

Basket Care

As with fine art, keep these baskets dry and out of direct UV light. These baskets are traditionally given as gifts and symbolize long and happy life. Create your own wall art by selecting a collection to display together in any space.

Sisal Basket Weaver


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