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Safari Journal

Basotho blankets

Basotho blankets

With winter just a week away officially (unofficially, the woollens are already making an appearance!) the thought of rugging up reminded me of these beautiful African blankets.

Basotho blankets are synonomous with the landlocked mountain kingdom of Lesotho. Quirky in design and colourful to boot, these unique blankets have a rich history dating back to 1860 when the founder of the kingdom, King Moshoeshoe I was presented a woollen blanket as a gift. So taken with the blanket, the King abandoned wearing his traditional leopard skin kaross in favour of the blanket. The Basotho people soon followed suit, and to this day the blanket is an integral part of daily Lesotho mountain life.

Basotho blanket designs are symbolic, motifs include heart, aloe, corncob [fertility and wealth], crest, crown, shield and hat. Whilst an overlaying pin-stripe, originally a weaving fault, directs how the blanket is worn, vertically symbolising growth.

It is also an essential feature of all important life events, from childbirth and marriage to initiation and the coronation of Kings.

Basotho blankets | The cultural identity of the landlocked African mountain kingdom of Lesotho

Basotho blankets | The cultural identity of the landlocked African mountain kingdom of Lesotho

Basotho blankets | The cultural identity of the landlocked African mountain kingdom of Lesotho

Basotho blankets | The cultural identity of the landlocked African mountain kingdom of Lesotho[Images: 1 Instagram @darolhowes, 2,5 Aranda, 3-4 The Other]

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