Explore and Understand Africa Through Her Food and Culture

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Zulu People African Basket Weaving Art

Zulu people Ilala Palm basket weaving is an ancient, exacting, time-consuming process. Traditional Zulu Ilala Palm basket weaving technique styles are Imbenge, Isichumo, Isiquabetho and Ukhamba.


Ukhamba African Zulu baskets are decorative and colorful bulb shaped container, made watertight by the tautness of the weave.
Ukhamba African Zulu basket 

As with most aspects of African culture, the specifics of basket making and the baskets themselves embody spiritual as well as aesthetic and practical qualities. Although basketry materials, techniques, and uses have varied among tribal cultures and have changed over time, baskets are the oldest handmade vessels used by African peoples and one of the most ancient of art forms.

Although basket making has become obsolete in some tribes with the passage of time, nearly every indigenous group throughout Africa has utilized basketry at some point: whether for food preparation and storage, as animal and fishing traps, to transport goods for sacred and ceremonial purposes.

Traditional Zulu Ilala Palm basket weaving technique styles are Imbenge, Isichumo, Isiquabetho and Ukhamba.



Imbenge
A small, saucer-shaped bowl traditionally woven with Ilala palm and grass fibers used as a platter or a lid.

Isichumo
Baskets have a tight firm weave with a bottle-shaped used for carrying liquids.

Isiquabetho
Baskets are large bowl shaped baskets used for gathering and carrying harvested foods and every day materials.

Ukhamba
Baskets are decorative and colorful bulb shaped container, made watertight by the tautness of the weave.
 
Isiquabetho African Zulu baskets are large bowl shaped baskets used for gathering and carrying harvested foods and every day materials.
Isiquabetho African Zulu basket 

For many Zulu Ilala Palm basket makers, the finished baskets are living metaphors of Zulu African people’s connection to the earth and to the seasonal cycles of life that influence the rules governing the harvesting and preparation of the organic materials used to make Zulu Ilala Palm baskets. The Ilala Palm grows along the North Eastern Coast of KwaZulu-Natal in Southern Africa.  Once cut and dried, the leaf is then prepared for weaving into fine, often watertight baskets. In African cultures, baskets represent functional art with a story that continues to be told. 

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