These basket weavers demonstrate amazing patience and concentration as they create each beaded wire basket. They string tiny colored glass beads on wire in meticulous fashion to create the patterns.
The only tool that the weavers use is a pair of pliers to manipulate and cut the wire. Most patterns are created from ideas the weavers have. Sometimes they will sketch an idea on paper and then try to reproduce it as a basket.
These baskets are traditionally given as gifts. For example, the bowls are given from mother to daughter at her wedding ceremony to symbolize the woman’s ability to care for husband and family.
The small lidded containers are given from grandmothers to granddaughters at the wedding. The baskets hold bracelets and earrings that mark her status as a newly married woman.
About the weavers
The weavers come from both the Maasai and Kikiyu cultures and are located North of Nairobi, Kenya. Two dozen weavers have organized into this group to skillfully create these baskets.
The Maasai and Kikiyu people continue a long history as some of the foremost bead workers in Africa. The skills to create beadwork has been passed down through many generations and these cultures are famous throughout the world for their beadwork.
Significant improvements in the women’s lives are realized because they use the money earned from making baskets to pay for food, clothing, health care, and to buy school uniforms for their children.
The Republic of Kenya is a country in Eastern Africa. With a population of more than 47.6 million people in the 2019 census, Kenya is bordered by South Sudan to the northwest, Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the east, Uganda to the west, Tanzania to the south, and the Indian Ocean to the southeast. Kenya’s capital and largest city is Nairobi, while its oldest city and first capital is the coastal city of Mombasa.
As of 2020, Kenya is the third largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria and South Africa. With a GNI of 1,460, Kenya is classified as a lower-middle-income economy. Agriculture is the largest sector: tea and coffee are traditional cash crops, while fresh flowers are a fast-growing export. The service industry is also a major economic driver, particularly tourism.
Kenya has a diverse population that includes many of the major ethnoracial and linguistic groups found in Africa. Although there is no official list of Kenyan ethnic groups, the number of ethnic categories and sub-categories recorded in the country’s census has changed significantly over time, expanding from 42 in 1969, to more than 120 in 2019. The majority of local residents are made up of Bantus (60%) and Nilotes (30%). Cushitic groups also form a small ethnic minority, as do Arabs, Indians, and Europeans.
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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.