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Tonga Basket


These solid-edged baskets are the apex of the Bathonga people basket maker’s art in Zimbabwe and Southern Zambia. The baskets made from the Ilala palm leaf start as a woven square and end up almost perfectly round. The pattern on the edging is referred to as “snake’s belly”, as the pattern resembles the scales of a serpent. Palm fibres are died using tree bark to make fibres with different colours. The design is very functional, as the baskets are used to winnow grain even today. The baskets are sometimes called “grandmother
baskets” because few younger women are making them. 

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