Welcome to Bolgatanga where I was born and the home of beautiful natural elephant grass Baskets.
Although baskets are woven in most African cultures, the quality and mastery of those made in Ghana are well respected. Hence, Bolga baskets are also sought after and traded to other African countries.
Baskets weaving is a skill that has been passed through generations over centuries in village cultures. Traditionally, baskets were used to sieve the husks from pounded guinea corn/millet and the fibre from the local alcoholic brew, Pito. They were also used in traditional ceremonies, such as weddings and funerals to carry gifts.
The baskets are made from sundried elephant grass which grows in the tropical grasslands of Africa. Once harvested, sundried and cut into uniform lengths, most of the grass is hand-dyed using traditional natural dyes made from plant and minerals, to achieve contemporary colours. Dyeing is done in cast iron or aluminium vats boiled over a fire, and once the desired shade is obtained, the grass is again sundried before being split in half, lengthwise, and twisted to give strength.
Weaving begins at the base of the basket and requires physical and mathematical skill to create a symmetrical shape with intricate woven patterns that match up around the circumference. During this process, the basket looks like an echidna, with spines of grass sticking out. Once complete, this excess grass is trimmed with a blade to reveal the beautiful patterns woven underneath. It takes about three days to create a sizeable round market basket.
The artisans we work with run their own enterprises. Some are farmers and supplement their incomes through basket-making, while others depend entirely on weaving. Purchasing baskets from the artisans is a continuous process which occurs on market days in remote villages like mine.
We support artisans by buying their products from the purchases you make. This means supporting the village, supporting traditional African techniques.