Basotho blankets, a southern Africa mainstay, gain attention in fashion circles
In the high mountains of Lesotho, a traditional lifestyle has been preserved alongside the inevitable modernisation in a fascinating mix of contemporary and customary life. Read more
This was my first time visiting Southern Africa, and what a trip to turned out to be.
Maliba Lodge was the finale of a trip that saw me visiting Cape Town and Hluhluwe. At the end of the lunch on my penultimate day, the Besotho staff filed out onto the deck under the veranda and performed 4 traditional songs for their guests, to the background accompaniment of an early afternoon thunderstorm. After their performance they were kind enough to pose as a group for me to snap a few photos.
What an amazing country, I can’t wait to come back!
Story and Photo by Rohan Baker
A big thank you to Rohan for sending us this image. Rohan has won himself a Maliba Mountain Lodge peak cap which we will be sending to him shortly.
Nowadays the Basotho tribal blanket (Seanamarena) is such a common sight in Lesotho, that tourists tend to assume that it was a local invention. However, its origins can be traced back to the European traders and missionaries as far back as the 1800s. The popularity and assimilation of the blankets by the Basotho people can be traced back to one single incident.
A blanket was presented to the then King, King Moshoeshoe I in 1860 by a man by the name of Mr. Howel. The King was by all accounts quite taken with the blanket (“a handsome railway wrapper made of light blue pilot cloth, heavy and hairy”) and wore the blanket in preference to his then neglected traditional leopard skin karosses.
The blanket has become part of not only their everyday life but as a status symbol. To outsiders it became a mark of ethnicity and therefore a token of cultural identification. In fact Lesotho is the only nation south of the Sahara that illustrates the culture of an entire nation through such an individualistic item such as the tribal blanket. Read more