The art of basket weaving in Ethiopia
Practical use of baskets in Ethiopia
Basket weaving is a long tradition in Ethiopia in general and in the state of Tigrai in particular. The themes of the design in the baskets are usually religious; for example a shape of a cross or natural patterns mimicking flowers and other natural beauty designs would be shown on a basket design.
It seems basket weaving came about from a necessity because almost all the baskets are practical. Some baskets are used as dining tables or plates to from, some are used in the farm, and most baskets are used in the kitchen. Some times people who live in the cities use baskets for decoration and hang them on their walls.
Basket weaving is usually done by women in Ethiopia. It is considered too feminine to be done by a man. The whole design is done from the women’s head. There are no patterns to trace, instructions to follow or computer help to design these colorful intricate designs the women just decide what pattern to use and design it from memory. The skill of basket weaving is transferred from mother to daughter for generations.
The materials used to make baskets use to be all organic like grass, plant straws, bamboo leaves and other natural material found in the land but now days some people use yarn and some modern materials.
Some women make their living by selling their baskets in big cities. The photo you see above is in a market where they have many baskets in different sizes and designs for sale.