Iringa baskets are an important part of Tanzania's cultural heritage enjoying a long tradition in the country. They have been used for many and varied purposes over the years. For example, the small baskets for were used as an early drinking vessel. They would be left to soak in water for one or two hours and being tightly woven, this would seal any gaps. Other uses include storage of crops or in wedding ceremonies where they would be filled with gifts such as rice, maize, potatoes and beans for the bride to take to the new home of her bridegroom as a token to start their new life.
They are woven from a natural reed found in swamp areas and river banks known locally as milulu grass. The weaving is carried out exclusively by women from the Hehe and Bena tribes in the Iringa region which is in the southern highlands of Tanzania. Made entirely by hand the baskets are expertly woven and beautifully finished, the result of a long tradition of artisanship, the talent of the maker and skills which have been passed down through the generations.
Being a fair trade product, the income received by the women for their weaving greatly improves their lives and those of their families enabling them to provide support by paying for all sorts of things from bicycles to school fees, school uniforms, health expenses and making improvements to their homes such as replacing thatched roofs with iron sheeting.
These baskets are a practical and beautiful addition around the house and are a staple of Oggetto’s collection.