Weaving baskets is a tradition in Taita culture. Our baskets are made by the Taita ladies from the Kasigau weaver's group in the rural villages between Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks in South Eastern Kenya.
Little Palma is working closely with Hadithi Crafts - an umbrella organisation representing a number of women's groups which make handicrafts in this area. At present time, Hadithi sells the crafts from 35 women’s groups, helping to financially empower around 900 women. These numbers are still growing. Hadithi plays a supportive role for these women’s groups by helping them to build their capacity, improve the quality of their products, improve sales through joint marketing efforts, and learn a business and other important skills to improve their lives overall. All of the profits from Hadithi sales, as well as any other money received from donations to Hadithi Crafts Support CBO, are used only to offer support to these women's groups.
These unique baskets are made out of sisal which is grown either on farms belonging to the basket weavers, or else purchased from sisal estates. Sisal is an exceptionally durable and strong material, and grows well in harsh Kenyan climates.The leaves of the sisal plant are used to obtain a fibre which is rolled to twine, and then woven into a basket. The sisal fibres are coloured by adding them to the desired dye and bringing them to the boil. They are then left out in the shade to dry. Traditionally ladies have used natural colorants like certain tree bark or soil to create earthen shades of black, brown, grey and pale pinks and yellows. Textile dyes are now broadly being used in order to obtain bright colours.
The Taita ladies dye the fibres themselves and then roll the twine on their lap. Making baskets is a very labour intensive art. The baskets come in a number of different colours, patterns and sizes with each design entirely made up by these artistic ladies. No two are the same. Each basket is made exclusively by one weaver from start to finish.
When you buy one of these baskets you are actively helping to provide an income for these ladies from an agricultural community. Situated in a semi-arid area, harvests often fail due to a lack of rain and consequently, poverty is rife - enforcing the need for an alternative income. Your purchase not only helps these kind and wonderful people escape poverty in their daily lives but also to help preserve beautiful traditions by allowing them to evolve alongside modern market economic developments.
ABOUT THE LADIES
Most groups meet every two weeks to weave baskets together, and continue weaving in the meantime at home, on the bus or whilst walking to their neighbours. Hadithi handicrafts visit each group every three months and purchase the baskets on the spot. Basket weaving empowers these women through their work that is flexible, creative and fairly paid. This precious craft has been passed on through generations and used to be given as traditional wedding gifts by mothers to their daughters.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR BASKET
Sisal is famous for being an extremely strong and hardy material; it is resilient even to salt water! However, care should be taken when exposing your basket to full sunlight, since this will cause the colours to fade. Whilst a splash of water will not harm these baskets, drying your basket out if it is made wet is recommended. Sisal is a natural product, and if it remains damp for a long period it can go mouldy. If you use your basket as a plant pot lining it with a waterproof bag is advisable.
Our fair trade baskets come in a range of sizes from XS to XL. The smaller ones are perfect for your indoor greenery and herbs, fruit and veges, bread and napkins, jewellery and other hidden treasures. The larger ones are great in the laundry or in the bathroom to hide all your bits and pieces. Not to mention for all the kids toys and books! The colours and vibrancy of these unique woven baskets bring life and love into any corner of your home.