Monday, October 23, 2017

 Borana Baskets
Borana baskets : On The Beam,Vol LIII, No.7. The Weavers Guild of Greater Baltimore March Issue 2007 by Janice Knausenberger
The Borana people live in arid northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia. I was privileged on Oct 4, 2006, to speak with a group of them from Moyale, who were in Nairobi for the International Agricultural Fair. The women were decked out in their finest, with aluminum beads and bracelets, leather straps with beads and cowrie shells, and tops of gourds forming tassels to their leather ornamentations. They were at the Farm Africa Booth, along with some of their local products like roofing materials and bowls carved by the men. Of course, of prime interest to me were their beautiful coiled milk baskets which are made by women. It is difficult to get a basket that has not been used and coated with milk and smoke. The baskets are very symmetrical and difficult to weave and an important part of their culture. An excellent source of this information can be found in Ethiopia, Traditions of Creativity by Raymond A. Silverman. 1999. University of Washington Press. Hong Kong. P. 72 – 87. According to the book, in Ethiopia, the Borana distinguish the ciicoo as a basket without a central horizontal band of weaving. The gorfa in Ethiopia can be of any size and must carry the woven central band. All the baskets the women had in their display in Kenya carried the central horizontal band. They called the small baskets chiichó and the larger ones, gorf.
Tume Tare explained, through an interpreter, how the weaving was done. The bark from sigiiso, (probably, Acacia reficiens) is pounded and used as the core and the weaver. When weaving, the weaver is twisted by applying pressure from her left thumb over their left fore finger, prior to inserting it over the core. These thin weavers are placed directly to the right of the last vertical wrap. She works from left to right. At the same time, the core is twisted also in this counter-clockwise manner. Wide verticals are made with untwisted weavers that can be separated with a twisted weaver (note picture of rib with two wide verticals with a narrow vertical in the middle). The unwrapped core is a visible element of these baskets, unlike the entirely covered core in Rendille camel milk baskets.
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