Sunday, 7 December 2008

Rwandan basketry designs

The designs on Rwandan traditional basketry are not merely abstract patterns; they tell stories. This one is about two friends meeting. It is by far the commonest design. The two friends meet, exchange greetings and friendship, and then part to go their separate ways
This pattern signifies joie de vivre: the general feeling of success, of well being

This pattern signifies speed, or progress, or prosperity

This is my favourite design In it, two people meet, then go along the road together. The road can be a literal road, or signify their progress through life as partners

Not sure about this design. There is another common one with diamond shapes on it which signify stars in the night sky. (In rural Rwanda, where there are no street lamps and few houses have electricity, the night sky is quite something)


GeoffreyMcMaster said...

Looking at the designs reminded me of the many craft groups that I visited in 2007. I have videoed several of them at work.

The skill required to make these crafts is amazing. Craftmaking is a way out of poverty for many women. There are many groups scattered around the countryside where trainers show the women that a way to a better future is through empowerment, education and working together.

Groups provide support and friendship and craft making helps bring in some much needed cash.
Most of the work is intricate and requires very good eyesight. Money earned helps members with house repairs, loans and to buy materials. For those whose eyesight is less good, they make woven mats for sale. Training cost 5,000 rf per person.

I didn't know what the designs meant until now that I read your descriptions.
- Geoffrey

Therese said...

Hi Bruce, I found your blog by doing a google search, and if I am not wrong, I am sure my daughter Charlotte will be arriving on the 18th of this month, to join Hayley, as she is working with VSO, she left last night and will be going to Laos first, keep up the blogging so Ma, knows what is happening on that side of the world.