Thursday, 21 October 2010

Look closer at Swaziland

This post is linked with a look closer sibling post on Eddie's Room about current crafts people in Swaziland

History of Swaziland
The Kingdom of Swaziland is a small landlocked country in Southern Africa, named after the 19th Century king Mswati II. It is bordered to the North, South and West by South Africa and to the East by Mozambique. The area was once home to nomadic Stone Age hunter-gatherers who left behind rock art paintings dating to around 25,000 BCE. Modern Swaziland was formed during the Bantu migrations from East Central Africa in the late 15th Century. After the Anglo-Boer war the British declared Swaziland a protectorate. In 1968 Swaziland gained independence are now ruled by King Mswati III.

Sisal Baskets
Sisal (Agave sisalana) is an Agave from which a rather stiff fibre is made. In Swaziland Sisal is an invasive weed and therefore the harvest of it does not threaten the country's natural biodiversity. Sisal is traditionally used to weave baskets and make rope, rugs and cattle fences. The titja basket is a traditional gift basket and the weaving of it is very labour intensive.

Thatching and fencing
The traditional Swazi homestead consists of several beehive huts thatched with dry grass and each surrounded by a reed fence/palisade. The reed fence is embodied in the reed dance (Umhlanga) where unmarried and childless Swazi girls collect tall reeds for the Queen Mother to repair holes in the royal village's palisade. Following the reed collection is the reed dance where the girls dress in traditional costume and parade in front of the royal family.

Do you know of more traditional Swazi crafts? If you do I would love to hear about it in the comment section below or as an email.

1 comment:

  1. [...] post is linked with a look closer sibling post on Historic Crafts about the craft history of [...]


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