Coil Woven Sisal Baskets
These highly collectible baskets are handmade in Eswatini from sisal fibers. Weavers take an average of 30 hours to create an 8 inch basket which makes these some of the most labor intensive of all African baskets.
Coil weaving is the most difficult type of basket weaving. Sisal 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 often exceeds 120 hours.
Only around two dozen Swati Masterweavers are capable of weaving baskets larger than 8 inches in diameter, and each basket is a unique creation. The complex and intricate patterns emerge without any planning or mathematical calculation. A natural talent for weaving one-of-a-kind patterns is a prerequisite for all Masterweavers.
The sisal plant, a species of agave and close relative of the yucca plant of the American Southwest, grows wild throughout Eswatini. Sisal fibers are so renowned for their strength that modern industry is increasingly using them as environmentally friendly strengthening agents.
Up to 1,000 fibers are stripped out of the sword-shaped leaves by pushing the leaf between a metal can and piece of wood, removing the pulp. The fine fibers that remain are then spun into long threads, and hand-woven using traditional patterns interpreted in modern colors.
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.
About Eswatini (Swaziland)
Eswatini, formerly and still commonly known in English as Swaziland, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is bordered by Mozambique to its northeast and South Africa to its north, west, and south. At no more than 200 kilometers (120 mi) north to south and 130 kilometers (81 mi) east to west, eSwatini is one of the smallest countries in Africa; despite this, its climate and topography are diverse, ranging from a cool and mountainous highveld to a hot and dry lowveld.
The government is an absolute monarchy, ruled by King Mswati III since 1986. Umhlanga, the reed dance held in August/September, and incwala, the kingship dance held in December/January, are the nation’s most important events.
The Swati population faces major health issues: HIV/AIDS and (to a lesser extent) tuberculosis are widespread. It is estimated that 26% of the adult population is HIV-positive. As of 2018, Eswatini has the 12th-lowest life expectancy in the world, at 58 years. The population of Eswatini is young, with a median age of 20.5 years and people aged 14 years or younger constituting 37.5% of the country’s total population.
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.