This Zulu Beer Basket is an example of a typical African folk art tradition–basketweaving. Zulu baskets are an integral part of Zulu custom and decorative beer baskets are made for special events, celebrations and as gifts. Handcrafted using the coiling method of basketweaving, the coiled grass is bound and handstitched with shredded Ilala palm leaf. The different colors of the basket are created from natural dyes using berries, leaves, clay, roots, dung or a combination of these. The different designs and patterns on the basket indicate the “lobola”–the bridal price paid in cows to the bride’s father.
This style of basketweaving is traditionally done by women who pass the craft, techniques and designs along by teaching their daughters and granddaughters. Many folk art traditions are gender specific and are passed from one generation to the next.