SUWILANJI: Medium Openweave Basket Bowl: 40cm dia
SUWILANJI is a round and deep basket woven by women of the Tonga tribe in rural Zambia from palm tree leaf, creeper vines and locally foraged twigs. Use yours for home storage or as a decorative statement piece.
These woven baskets come in three sizes and each one is beautifully unique. Herringbone patterns and geometric designs characterize these traditional Zambian baskets, but the specific pattern of each basket has been decided by the weaver herself, taking inspiration from her natural surroundings.
When the Kariba Dam - a man made dam on the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe – was built in the 1970’s many local people were displaced, and their cultural heritage threatened. The government and other organisations set up an initiative in response to this, enabling many Tonga to pursue and earn a living from traditional handcrafts such as basket weaving, blacksmithing and woodwork.
The weavers who produce these round storage baskets tend to weave together in groups, meeting regularly to weave in the shade. Income made from basket weaving is used to invest in agriculture or fishing and to support the family and pay children’s school fees.
Material: Ilala Palm
Dimensions: 40cm Dia x 29cm Height
Please note, as this is a handmade product, dimensions & colour may vary from those shown in the photographs.
HANDMADE IN ZAMBIA
We are delighted to be bringing beautiful Zambian basketry to The Basket Room, and thus connecting some incredible, rural craft collectives with conscientious customers all over the world. As part of our mission to discover and connect with the most talented craftspeople across Africa, Holly and Peris travelled to Zambia in 2019. Here they met and spent time with three different weaving groups who between them produce some of the woven wall baskets, decorative dancing baskets and handwoven place mats that we are now so pleased to be able to share with you.
Natural dyes are a key feature of this very special Zambian basketry, and the weavers we partner with are masters in achieving beautiful, earthy colours from blending rust, leaves and bark from specific indigenous trees in vats of boiling water.
Men and women both weave in Zambia, and the winnowing baskets that we sell as large wall platters are often used in many weavers’ homes, and for the careful work of separating rice and grain from chaff.
Our Zambian baskets are a celebration of the weavers’ natural home environment, woven from raw materials such as palm leaf, twigs and creeper vines. Some baskets are woven from the carefully stripped roots of certain trees, harvested in a sustainable way that means the tree is not damaged and the root can continue to grow and provide an ongoing source of weaving materials.
Weaving is a vital income source and a way of life for the people in these rural communities. Other means of income are blacksmithing and woodwork, fishing, growing rice and vegetables, and rearing livestock and poultry. People as young as the age of eighteen weave in these Zambian groups, and local schools even run weaving clubs so that youngsters can learn this precious craft and continue this age-old legacy for generations to come. To own one of these handwoven baskets is to become a guardian of this sustainable craft and a supporter of these Zambian weavers’ economic empowerment.
Shop the Dancing Bowls here
Shop the Palm Placemats & Trays here
Shop the Wall Platters here