Okavango Delta Baskets
These Botswana baskets, representing some of the highest quality baskets woven today, spring from the people living in earth’s largest inland delta. Created from the Okavango River that spills into the sands of the Kalahari Desert, the delta contains one of the continent’s most diverse and abundant populations of animals.
Women of the Bayei and Hambukushu tribal groups painstakingly create this art from ‘mokola’ palm tree fiber coil woven around grass or vine. The bark and roots from 2 different trees are used to make the dye colors, as are decomposing sorghum husks and shrub leaves.
Coil weaving is the most difficult type of basket weaving. Fibers are wrapped and stitched over a coil of grass. Controlling the thickness and evenness of the coils takes years of practice.
As a bowl get 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. Adding an inch in diameter at the top of a basket could actually take as long or longer than the first several inches as the base of the basket.
Time taken to weave a larger Masterweave basket is often measured in months or even years.
Pricing is according to the weaving quality and size of the basket. Two baskets the same size, but with different weave qualities will be priced differently according to the quality of the weaving.
Traditionally, women use these beautiful decorative open bowls for winnowing grain or carrying things on their heads. Lidded baskets would be used for grain storage or for holding sorghum beer. Use these baskets to add a touch of organic, natural beauty to your décor.
Thank you for supporting these weavers with income that they use to send their children to school and to significantly improve their lives. This also allows them to live traditional lives on their lands as subsistence farmers.
A mid-sized country of just over 2.3 million people, Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Around 10 percent of the population lives in the capital and largest city, Gaborone.
Formerly one of the poorest countries in the world — with a GDP per capita of about US$70 per year in the late 1960s — Botswana has since transformed itself into one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The economy is dominated by mining, cattle, and tourism. Its high gross national income (by some estimates the fourth-largest in Africa) gives the country a relatively high standard of living and one of the highest Human Development Index of continental Sub-Saharan Africa.
Shop with a conscience. Choose Fair Trade goods.
All of our African baskets are verified Fair Trade, because we believe that indigenous people around the world should be compensated fairly for their amazing work.