Zanzibar offers a wide
and ever changing selection of handcrafted, fairly traded Tongan Plateau
Baskets from Zambia and Zimbabwe. Due to civil unrest in the regions
where they are made, sourcing these baskets has become EXTREMELY
difficult. Our inventories are LIMITED. Please call before placing orders.
Visit our gallery for the best selection (please note: Very few are
on display in our gallery - most are in our stockroom - so ask to see
Fairly traded from a
Tongan women’s group in the Gwembe Valley in Zambia and Matabeleland in
Zimbabwe. The women who create these amazing baskets live in the remote
southern part of the country which is frequently ravaged by famine. Mostly
subsistence farmers living in rural areas, the women weave these baskets
from twigs and palm fronds. These shallow baskets are traditionally used
in the flour making process for winnowing and storage of grain. You can
use these baskets for decoration, or as a way to store and display food,
toys, magazines - just about anything.
Plateau baskets are made
on the Plateau districts by BaTonga (Tongan) women living on the highlands
of the Southern Province of Zambia and in Zimbabwe.
The Baskets are woven Natural Fibers - fronds of the ilala and malala palm
trees. The natural color of the dried palm fronds is straw, however
darker colors (ranging from red brown to deep browns are possible by dying
the fronds in dyes derived from the roots and bark of the Umnyi tree.
It takes from four days to two weeks to collect the materials, dye a
basket and weave it.
Basket making is the main economic craft of the province, so domestic
cultivation of these now rare palm trees, from which these baskets are
woven, is promoted. Women are the main beneficiaries of
Commonly called Tongan or Plateau baskets, these baskets are referred to
by a variety of names, and each region has its own name and style of
basket. The traditional Tonga basket has a square woven base and a
wide round rim at the top. The bottom strips or twigs extend radially into
the walls of the basket. Palm leaf strips are then woven into it
with a continuous twined coil foundation wrapped with the palm leaves. The
pale strips may be dyed darker colors to allow for woven patterning.
Patterns are also made by variations in weaving, by leaving the dark
radials exposed or by covering them. The basket is completed by a round
Traditionally these baskets were used to keep foodstuff or for winnowing
purposes. You can use these baskets just for decoration, or as a
decorative way to store and display food, toys, magazines -- just about
anything. They look great on a wall!
They are made in a variety of designs and sizes. No two are alike and
those pictured are examples only. To receive a basket of specific size
(let us choose a nice design for you!).
Plateau baskets vary in size slightly, however we normally stock ones in
approx. 10", 13", 18", 21", 24", 26" and GIANT 33" sizes. Master Weaver
baskets also available in 24" sizes (inquire).
Visit our gallery for best selection. Baskets shown below are
SAMPLES only - and most are sold.
1731 L Street Sacramento