Meet The Weavers

 

bolga basket weaversA woman weaving a bolga basket Bolga weavers

 

 

 

 

 

All our partner weavers come from the Upper-East region of Ghana. They are our lifeline on this journey of bringing eco-friendly baskets to your homes. Each basket is an exclusive piece of art created by a weaver before it becomes yours. Hard work and tremendous skill are invested into crafting of the baskets.  Woven intricately over a couple of days, your basket may have been with the weaver on their daily errands to many places, as they combine weaving with their other endeavours.  The artisan weavers are the creators; and we are just helping to share their stories and craft. We are proud to help tell their stories and also bring their stunning pieces to your homes.

Below is a summary of insights into the bolga basket weaving stories, told by our partner weavers in Ghana.

How do people learn to become weavers and why?

Basketry is part of the culture and heritage of the people in this region. It is ingrained in them just like their language, or food. The people and the art are inseparable. The craft has been passed on from generations till date. Born and bred in this region, individuals are bound to learn how to weave consciously or unconsciously. It is an everyday thing. Growing up, children are surrounded by a lot of Bolga basket weavers.

However, to be a master of this ancient craft, it takes talent, skill and practice.  The best weavers master their arts through observation, practice and coaching from the very best. Besides the art being part of their culture, it is also one of the most predominant occupations in the region. People engage in it as a means of livelihood. The Upper-East region is one of the places where there are harsh weather conditions for farming.  Therefore, basket weaving provide an alternative source of income. With regular orders from African Creations, weavers are able to earn a sustainable income from their craft. Due to demands for Modern and complicated designs, the best weavers still do further training to perfect their craft.

 How long does it take to learn how to weave?

It is quite difficult to determine the average time taken to learn how to weave, because for most weavers, the learning process starts right from infancy. By the time they become teenagers, they are able to make little baskets while playing with the excess raw materials from their parents. The duration to learn and master the craft depends on a number of factors, such as, family, intelligence, practice, coaching and passion. For instance, if most of your family members make the bolga baskets, you are likely to learn it faster compared to someone whose family do not. Because you get involved in the process. At a young age, some children help with pre-weaving preparation such as splitting, twining and untwining of the straws. Just like any other activity, the learning process differs from one person to another .

How long does it take to weave a Bolga basket?

Again, It is difficult to determine on average the time it takes to weave all baskets because there are different kinds and sizes of baskets. For example a medium size shopper takes about 3 days to make from scratch. From the preparation of the straws to the dyeing (if required) and then main weaving, to completion. A complex and contemporary basket, such as art baskets, can take up to a week.  Other baskets can take two weeks or even a month to complete, depending on the size and other details required. Learn more.

What are the traditional uses of Bolga baskets in Bolgatanga?

They were produced in the past without handles and used as sieves or colanders to separate the millet from the stalk and waste. Also, they were traditionally used as storage for harvest of food crops. Women also used them as carriers for bringing foodstuffs from the farm.

For how many months in a year do you weave baskets? Is it seasonal?

Weaving is done all year round. However it is more active in some seasons than others . Mostly, the artisans also engage in farming as an additional occupation to basket weaving. So the active weaving seasons are when they are not doing any farm work.  There is only one farming season which stretches from June to October. That is when weaving is not very active. People get tired from working on their farms and are therefore unable to weave as much. During this period, weavers would use twice the time they normally need to produce a basket.

 Do more women weave than men – why is that the case?

There are more women in the weaving industry than men. One reason is that, the population of women is said to be  higher than men in most villages. Also in most cultures in the Northern part of Ghana, women are not privileged to own or inherit farmlands(culturally). They can only work on lands that belong to their fathers, husbands and brothers. Therefore women engage in the craft as their primary source of income.

 Is weaving an important source of income and how does it help?

Weaving is a major source of income for women in these communities. It has created a sustainable income for the artisans who are able to care for themselves and their families by providing food, education, medical needs, shelter etc.  It provides employment to artisans, most of whom are women who otherwise would have been seen as burden and dependent to become independent.

Atubga: “I am able to support my family with the money I get from weaving. I used some for food and also medical needs”.

 

 

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