The tradition of basket-making
More than any other craft, basketry represents a blend of indigenous culture, environment and technology. Basketry evolved out of the need to contain or carry things ranging from water to mice. The forms and techniques of basket making have evolved independently in different parts of the world, reflecting the materials available to the maker.
Changes in basket making:
Both in developed and least developed countries, Basket-making is being affected by the spread of ”new” non-traditional materials, like plastic and metal and as a result baskets have been marginalised, as they are being replaced by manufactured products.
Basket-making in Malawi:
Basket-weaving in Malawi is still practiced in rural areas, where materials are readily available. Baskets can still be seen in day-to-day activities, as well as in urban and rural markets.Their functions, forms and techniques remain virtually unchanged. The materials and methods of gathering them have also changed little. Weavers express concern about the scarcity of raw material. Despite this broad use though, basket weavers in Malawi struggle to earn decent incomes and most of them live below the poverty line.
If basket-weavers in Malawi start to diversify and produce utilitarian hand woven products for modern living in the sector of home accessories and furniture, then they can revive their craft, reach new markets and as a result achieve better livelihoods for themselves and their families.