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African Basketry. Grassroots Art from Southern Africa

African Basketry. Grassroots Art from Southern Africa

Both an grassroots art and a craft, Southern African basketry represents the finest blend of indigenous culture, environment and technology.

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Title: African Basketry. Grassroots Art from Southern Africa
Author: Anthony B. Cunningham; Elizabeth Terry
Imprint: Fernwood Press
Publisher: Random House Struik
Cape Town, South Africa 2006
ISBN 9781874950776/ ISBN 978-1-874950-77-6
Hardcover, dustjacket, 24x31 cm, 280 pages, throughout bw and colour photographs


African Basketry: Grassroots Art from Southern Africa is a unique contribution to African art and culture. More than any other African craft, basketry represents the finest blend of indigenous culture, environment and technology. Different types of basketry from southern Africa are featured in this book, with both historical and contemporary examples from Botswana, Lesotho, southern Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, western Zambia and Zimbabwe. In the past, various basketry items reflected the lifestyles of the hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, fishing communities and agriculturalists who made them. Later, with rapid urbanisation and cultural change, some basketry styles and century-old skills disappeared, almost without a trace.

More recently, there has been a dramatic increase in the international appreciation of African basketry as an art form. The export of African basketry to collectors, interior designers and museums in the USA, Europe and Australia has flourished. To date, no comprehensive book has been published on basketry in southern Africa. This has meant that many basketry enthusiasts have acquired 'traditional' African basketry items with little background knowledge of their origins, historical context, use, or the raw materials used in their crafting. African Basketry provides detailed information on historical perspectives, weaving techniques, construction methods, designs, styles and raw materials used in basketry.

The impact of commercialisation is also described, which has brought with it various benefits and challenges for basket makers. Photographs of baskets from major museum collections in southern Africa, the USA and Britain, feature alongside unique images of basket construction and use. Previously unpublished black-and-white photographs taken by Alfred Duggan-Cronin in the early 1900s enhance the historical record. African Basketry describes past, present and future trends, enabling the proper recognition of this art form in both time and place.

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