Basket making

The Rwenzori Mountains in Western Uganda form the background for the village life of the local women who produce the baskets for RuwenZori Crafts.

Traditionally the people from the Rwenzori Region use millet baskets (ebibos) for serving millet bread and coffee baskets (akaibo ko mwani) for presenting roasted coffee beans to welcome visitors.

The dye plants

Preparing the natural dyes

The women collect plants and roots which are used to dye the raffia (obuswali), a strong white fibrous material, into beautiful colours red, orange, brown and yellows.

They keep these plants in their own garden, together with the food crops for household consumption.


Preparing the mixture

Pounding the mixture

The leaves of the "mufoka" plant are pounded in a mortar with a little water in order to obtain the right mixture and create the green or black colours.

For the colours yellow, orange, red and brown they use the root of a plant called "muka". Also "akaramata" seeds and roots are used and the roots of turmeric and the petals of the marigold.


raffia in pot

Soaking the raffia

The raffia strings are mixed into the dye and the pot is heated on a fire for the colours to absorb well into the material. Salt or ashes are also mixed in to fix the dye.

 


dyed raffia

The finished raw product

The raffia after the various dye processes have been completed, all using natural dye products from plants, berries, seeds, roots etc.

The range of colours obtained is quite amazing: from dark blues to deep reds and bright yellows!

 


weaving

Weaving the baskets

The women use dried papyrus stalks which they split into long thin threads and join to shape the frame of the basket. A needle is used to wind straws of dry millet or raffia around it, creating a basket shape.

Millet straw is a very attractive weaving material which doesn't require treatment because it is naturally designed.


selling

Ready for sale

Women come to sell their baskets directly at the RuwenZori View Guest House. You can contact RuwenZori Crafts with your special basket orders. The women are trained to shape the product to your own design.

We ensure that all women get a fair price for their baskets. Each basket is labelled with the maker's name.