Three women weaving traditional baskets. The woman in the center wears a white headband, known as the urugori, which indicates that she is a young married woman who has recently given birth.
Basketry plays an important part in Rwandan life, for both artistic and utilitarian purposes. Rwandans create baskets out of sisal fibers, sweet grass, and banana leaves, and dye them with natural plant pigments, tea leaves, or commercial dyes. Artistic basketry is practiced mainly by women. Some decorative baskets are imbued with traditional patterns that have been used for centuries. In addition to serving a decorative purpose, these baskets are used for storing valuables and for other traditional practices. Women and girls create mats, baskets, and decorative panels, including panels for the King’s Palace. Decorative basketry has become an important livelihood for women in present-day Rwanda.
The making of utilitarian baskets is practiced by both women and men. Men use basketry techniques to construct large items such as huts and the traditional fence, the igikare. Basket weaving is an important source of income for farmers.