Botswana: A Look at the Handicrafts & Cultural legacy 

Botswana, the least densely populated country in the world compared to land size has a number of interesting features. The country has one of the best living standards in Africa, the highest concentration of Elephants on the continent, the biggest diamond production in the world, and the perfect spot to view some cheeky Meerkats. The country is playing a strong role in nature conservation by protecting its national parks and is a great place to find some indigenous handicrafts.

Handicrafts of Botswana, Botswana traditional clay pot

Let’s take a closer look at the variety of crafts made by the local artisans and the artistic skills of these craftsmen. 

Botswana Baskets: Crafted from Nature, Woven with Skill

These Botswana baskets, renowned for their high quality, are made by the villages that surround the Okavango Delta, the world’s biggest inland delta. This delta, nourished by the Okavango River and surrounded by the sands of the Kalahari Desert, has a vibrant environment and numerous fauna.

Botswana Woven Crafts

These exquisite baskets are expertly crafted by the skilled women of the Bayei (Wayeyi, Bayeyi, Yei) and Hambukushu tribes from’mokola’ palm tree fibers wound around grass or vine. These folks have figured out how to use the destruction to their advantage because they coexist on their land with a sizable number of destructive elephants. Rich organic colours are produced using the roots, bark, and sorghum husks of uprooted trees. 

Batswana Woven Baskets

As the diameter of these baskets increases, the time required for each subsequent inch increases exponentially. A bigger Masterweave basket might take months or perhaps years to complete. Pricing varies based on weaving quality and size, making each piece a testament to the weaver’s commitment.

Wooden Crafts: A Showcase of Skill

The communities of Hambukushu and Basubiya stand out as the guardians of Botswana’s woodwork skills. These artisans turn wood from the Mohane tree into functional and beautiful works of art ranging from kitchen utensils and chairs to drums and thumb pianos. They often carve animal and human figurines on their products which are inspired from their environment. These goods can be found on roadside stalls and in artisan cooperatives, adding a rustic touch to towns and cities.

Batswana Handcrafted Wooden Elephant

Ostrich Egg Shell Crafts: A Lasting Legacy

For Botswana’s San Bushmen, the age-old custom of creating stunning jewelry and paintings from ostrich egg shells bears great cultural importance. Aside from its aesthetic appeal, the egg’s flexible shell is a gift of nutrition and prosperity, symbolizing good fortune desires. This craft, which dates back over 50,000 years, is a tribute to their unbroken tradition.

Botswana hand painted Ostrich Egg

While ostrich eggshells were originally collected in the wild, they are now sustainably sourced from farms in accordance with sustainable principles. The jewelry is crafted from small beads that retain teh original color of teh shell or dyed pieces using organic dyes. 

Reviving Traditions: A New Chapter

Botswana’s handicrafts have had a resilient path. Traditional crafts such as pottery and woodcarving remain popular, but new ceramics and contemporary designs thrive. Several groups and organizations support Botswana’s crafts. Local products can be found at curio shops, craft stores, and shopping malls across the country, and they’re also finding their way into foreign markets. The craft movement helps to ensure long-term livelihoods and cultural preservation.

Traditional Botswana Kalimba

Botswana’s artisans have a lot to offer, from baskets that represent centuries-old traditions to modern interpretations of art. Their creations reveal stories about a nation’s heritage, perseverance, and expanding creative spirit.