Zulu Baskets – A natural touch of colour

Zulu Baskets – A natural touch of colour

Zulu Baskets are made using Ilala palm which grows along the North Eastern coast of Kwa Zulu Natal.  Once cut and dried, the leaf is then prepared for weaving into fine, often watertight, baskets.  The natural shade of the Ilala palm is cream and all other colours are obtained by boiling roots, berries, leaves and the bark of indigenous flora.  Many are seasonal.

Brown/Black (Isizimane) – roots of a tree, crushed and boiled for many days.

Pink/Lilac (Mphegumbefu – Leaves of a small bush ( boiled for 12-18 hours)

Coral ( Mgwenya) – Aloe roots (4-6 hours)

Purple/Blue ( Umdoni) – Skin of ripe umdoni berries ( 4-5 hours)

Burgundy/Maroon (Isfixu) – Bark of Marula tree ( 1-2 hours)

Orange (Xomisane) – Roots of small plant (2-4 hours)

Mustard/Yellow (Icena) – Paste of wood ash and water.  Soaked overnight and boiled for 5-7 hours

Grey ( Ijuba) – Soaked in black mud for up to 1 week

Khaki Green ( Mxuba) – Fresh cow dung, soaked overnight in water and thereafter boiled with palm leaves for 4-5 hours. The green colour is much clearer in Spring.

It is therefore no surprise that it can take up to one month to produce a medium sized basket that will be totally unique in size, shape, pattern, weave and colour.

A true Collector’s item

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