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Zulu Beer Baskets

All Zulu baskets are made with indigenous grass and leaves. The most popular are the fronds from the Ilala Palm (hyphaene coriacea), with a natural cream color, and waxy surface, making it ideal for use in making the watertight “Ukhamba”, beer baskets. All are roughly pear shaped, with a tightly fitted lid which fits into the top. Made for storing the locally made sorghum beer. The baskets swell up when wet, and the condensation keeps it cool. The bark of the Wild Banana (strelitzia nicolai) is torn apart yielding the soft string, which is used to alternate with the Ilala in weaving of the baskets. Each basket has a story, about colors, symbols and uses attached. These baskets are stunningly beautiful, but then the Zulu are considered to be among the best weavers in the world. Ours were bought almost 20 years ago, and kept bagged in a dark attic, so there wouldn’t be any sun bleaching. Each basket is an obvious piece of art.

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