Art from The Heart of Africa

Seeing the beautiful combination of black and natural Tanzanian Iringa baskets and Ugandan raffia bowls, one tends to forget the skill, artistry and time required to create these beautiful vessels.

Iringa baskets are woven in and around Iringa, a town in the southern highlands of Tanzania. The region, home to amongst others, the Hehe and Bena tribes, overlooks the Ruaha River. The leaves of local grass known as milulu grass are split into thin reed like fibres before it is left to dry in the sun. The fibres initially have a green tint but gradually changes colour as it dries. Where artisans wish to bring colours such as black and rust into their designs, the fibres are dyed with natural dyes before it is dried. The familiar rounded shapes of Iringa baskets are then created by community groups of weavers.

Uganda, a country in East Africa, is home to many diverse landscapes- from the snow-capped Rwenzori mountains to the beautiful lake Victoria. Being one of the poorest nations in the world, Ugandan women use small-scale entrepreneurial activities such as basket weaving to earn and supplement their incomes. The raffia bowls with their distinctive graphic designs are hand made by wrapping dyed raffia around a coil of banana leaf stems known as bukedo. The dyes are extracted from the leaves, stems and roots of plants. Each design is unique which make every bowl not only a decorative or functional product but an art piece in its own right.