Tag Archive for Traditional Blankets

The Basotho dancers of Maliba Lodge

This was my first time visiting Southern Africa, and what a trip to turned out to be.

Basotho dancers with blankets at Maliba Lodge

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!

Maliba Lodge peak cap

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.

How to wear the Traditional Blanket

  1. Hold the blanket with the correct side for your gender facing outwards. If you’re male, wear the darker side out. If you’re a female, the lighter side should be on the outside. Ensure that the stripes are vertical and that the tag is at the bottom.
  2. Fold the blanket over at the top so that the blanket will not be too large on you when you wear it.
  3. Keeping the correct side facing outwards, drape the blanket over yourself so that the opening of the blanket is on your right side. If you’re female, however, the opening should be in front of you. Remember to keep the stripes vertical, the correct side out, and the tag at the bottom.
  4. Pin the blanket at your right shoulder or front, depending on your gender. If you’re male, pin it so that the pin is not visible. This can be tricky.

The History of the Basotho traditional blanket

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.

Sketch of King Moshoeshoe I by Eugène Casalis

Sketch of King Moshoeshoe I by Eugène Casalis (1833)

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

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