Bolgatanga Baskets or “Tehei”
Genuine Bolga baskets are exclusively woven by the indigenous Gurune, also known as Frafra people, around the town of Bolgatanga in Northern Ghana.
Bolga is the crafts center of Northern Ghana. For many generations, weaving has been a traditional skill of the people there.
Handicraft activities such as basket weaving, leatherwork, and pottery making, mostly done by women, supplement these subsistence farmers’ incomes.
Farming in the region can be precarious due to poor soil, erratic rainfall, and harsh conditions.
Weavers collect veta vera straw, which is at the top of the grass known locally as kinkahe, leaving the grass roots in the soil to regrow. Then each piece is split in half vertically.
Each half of the split straw is then strengthened by rolling it into a tight twist.
The straw is put in bunches and dyed in boiling water. For bright colors the straw is dyed yellow first, then the color.
The selection of the proper grass for various parts of the basket is critical to good weaving.
Weaving starts at the base and works up to the rim. The rims are generally finished flat, or wrapped with straw to form a tube like edge.
Remaining bits of straw that are sticking out of the basket are carefully trimmed.
There are a variety of different handles, but all are made with a sturdy wrapping technique around a grass core. Leather handles are skillfully applied by local leather workers.
A medium basket takes about 3 days. Some shapes and patterns are more difficult to weave and take longer.
Fair Trade Practices
This weaving group has a mission: assisting the rural people of Northern Ghana to earn a better income in order to care for their children. They believe when a woman creates an income, she puts food into the bowl of her children, which promotes self-esteem for the women, children, and the entire village.
The Republic of Ghana (formerly called Gold Coast) is a country along the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean, in the subregion of West Africa. Spanning a land mass of 238,535 km2 (92,099 sq mi), Ghana is bordered by the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo in the east, the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean in the south. Ghana means “Warrior King” in the Soninke language.
The first permanent state in the territory of present-day Ghana dates back to the 11th century, the Bono State. Numerous kingdoms and empires emerged over the centuries, of which the most powerful were the Kingdom of Dagbon and the Ashanti Empire.
Today, Ghana is a unitary constitutional democracy led by a president who is both head of state and head of the government. Ghana’s growing economic prosperity and democratic political system have made it a regional power in West Africa. It is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Group of 24 (G24) and the Commonwealth of Nations.
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