BOLGA BASKETS FROM GHANA

Ghana, West Africa

Bolgatanga Baskets or “Tiia"

 

The baskets are exclusively woven by the indigenous Frafra people of a historical town in Northern Ghana called Bolgatanga.  Bolga is known as the crafts center of northern Ghana, with a large central market. Weaving has been a traditional skill of these people over the years. The geographical land area of Bolgatanga is not fertile enough for extensive agricultural activities. Coupled with an erratic rainfall pattern and generally harsh weather conditions, handicraft activities such as basket weaving, leather work and pottery are undertaken mostly by the women to supplement their incomes from the subsistence of farming activities.

 

Fair Trade Practices

 

The weaving group has a mission: to assist the poor rural women of Northern Ghana in earning decent

incomes from the fruits of their labors in order to care for their children.  We believe when the woman can create an income, the trickle-down effect puts food into the bowl of a child, and is a way of promoting self-esteem for the women, children and village.

                 

 

Creation Process

 

  • Elephant grass straw is collected from the tops of the stalk, then each piece is split in half vertically by biting through it.

  • Each half of the split straw is then twisted tightly by rolling it against a weaver’s leg to give it strength.

  • The straw is put in bunches and dyed in boiling water with the dye added. For bright colors the straw is dyed yellow first, then the color.

  • The weaver carefully selects appropriate straw for the base, sides and handle. The selection of the proper grass for the proper parts of the basket is critical to good weaving.

  • Weaving starts at the base and works up to the rim. The rims are generally finished flat, or wrapped with straw to form a tube like edge.

  • There are a variety of different handles, but all are made with a sturdy wrapping technique around a grass core.

  • Remaining bits of straw that are sticking out of the basket are carefully trimmed off. The trimming is a important because it determines how the basket feels to the touch.

  • Leather handles are usually applied by local leather workers.

  • A medium basket takes 3 days.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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