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Africa: Traditional Arts of the Sub-Saharan Region - Exhibition text 1990 - African Baskets

Baskets are made and used all over Africa for serving food, storaging grains and harvested crops, winnowing rice and millet, fish traps, boxes, and ceremonial costumes. The abundance of basket-making material such as grasses, willow reeds, rushes, cane, raffia, papyrus fibres and banana fibres, allows for a great number of baskets to be made in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Baskets are constructed in three main weaving techniques:

Coiling - The most comon and perhaps the earliest form of basket weaving, coiled baskets are made from bundles of straw or reed wrapped with grass or raffia which is coiled and sewn together as the basket forms.

Twilled work - Unlike coiling, which is sewn, twilled work baskets are woven, using a warp and weft. In twilled work, the fundamental technique is to pass each weft strand over two warp strands while weaving. This results in a distinctive diagonal pattern.

Woven Twined work - An elegant and intricate weaving technique, twinning involves a warp and weft as in twilled work, except that the warp is usually sturdier than the weft. A double weft is woven around each warp strand - with one element passing over and the other under - creating close and even weave on both sides of the basket.

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