GONGA: Handwoven Red and Blue Wool Tote Bag
Introducing GONGA: a one-off woollen basket bag hand woven by the Kamba tribe in Kenya. Bolts of bright red and blue pop against a natural base, creating a distinctly tribal effect.
This exquisite basket bag is modelled on the Kenyan kiondo (kee-yon/-doh) – a type of storage basket traditionally woven in rural Kenyan communities by mothers as wedding gifts for their daughters. Kiondo weaving was becoming a rare craft in Kenya until very recently: in 2004 only four elders from this cooperative had the experience to make them. Today there are around fifty active members reviving this stunning craft, which is typically passed down the female bloodline.
The wool used to create these elaborate designs is sourced from upcycled woolly jumpers purchased at second hand clothes markets, and each bag takes up to six days to complete. The basket bags are then sent to a leading local leather works to be finished, being fitted with cow hide shoulder straps.
To take home one our Nifty Knit Basket Bags is to become an important part of our journey: a tale that weaves together generations of craftsmanship. We are proud to support the weavers, providing a sustainable source of income for farming communities whose primary income can be unreliable. Each woven basket is supplied with a thank you card from the weaving cooperative, and you can meet the weavers HERE.
Material: SISAL & RECYCLED WOOL (NATURAL & SYNTHETIC) LEATHER STRAPS
Dimensions: 40cmW X 30cmH approx (width is measured at the widest part of the bag)
Strap Length: 29cm approx
Leather used is a by-product of the food industry.
Please note, as this is a handmade product, dimensions & colour may vary from those shown in the photographs.
HANDMADE IN KENYA
Our journey into sustainable style began in Kenya, and the lion’s share of our woven baskets are Kenyan-made. Whilst every region of Kenya boasts its own rich natural bounty, each cooperative we partner with offers expertise in its own unique form of basketry. Weaving, dyeing and grass-rolling techniques differ across the regions as much as basket shapes, patterns and structures. These precious crafts are woven through the generations within families - passed along continuous thread from mother to daughter - protecting and preserving an art form as old as man.
Vast and colourful, vibrant and bursting with natural beauty and style, our fair trade baskets are as eclectic as their homeland and its people. From sisal grass to doum palm, banana leaf fibres to palm leaf, each weaving cooperative works with what is locally available and only what can be sustainably sourced, to produce beautiful baskets which are 100% Kenyan made, and ethically produced. All cow hide bag tags, straps, and basket labels are made from leather sourced as a by-product of the food industry. Natural dyes come from pounded roots, bark and vegetables of the region, whilst all synthetic dyes are sustainably sourced.
From the Kamba tribe to the camel-herding Ariaal pastoralists of Northern Kenya, you can read more about the lives of the Kenyan weavers we work with - and the wonderful baskets they produce - below.