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Tutsi Basket Lidded Tight Weave Rwanda African Art

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Title Tutsi Basket Lidded Tight Weave Rwanda African Art
Type of Object Lidded Basket
Country of Origin Rwanda, Burundi
People Tutsi
Materials Straw, vegetal fibers, dyes
Approximate Age 20th Century
Dimensions 7.5 inches tall with lid; basket is 3.75 inches tall x 3.25 inches diameter
Overall Condition Fair
Damage/Repair tears in bottom of basket as shown; dirt and general wear

Additional information: Lidded baskets such as this are among the most exquisite artworks made by the Tutsi or by people of other ethnic groups, including Hutu and Twa people. These baskets called Agaseki were made from vegetable fibers of sisal and papyrus trees (Nigwegwe). The grasses of these trees were soaked in the water for almost two weeks to make them soft. Then they were beaten with stones and dried. Earlier examples like this were made of the natural pale gold color of the fibers decorated with the patterns in black which came from boiling the root and seeds of the Urukamgi plant or the banana flowers. Recent examples incorporate imported dyes including red, green, orange, and mauves. The range of the patterns is unlimited and shows the creativity of women from Rwanda and Burundi. Many of these designs have specific names. These baskets were served as containers to transport valued foods such as eggs, milk, beans, meat, and other valuable objects. They were presented as wedding gifts to a bride and groom. They were also used as decoration. After the genocide of 1994, the miniature baskets have became symbols of peace, as Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa women sit side by side to weave the “peace baskets”. They have new designs and are more colorful compare to these earlier examples. Also, the straw used for these new baskets is thicker than the traditional ones. For similar pieces see AFRICA. THE ART OF CONTINENT, p. 158, figs. 2.44a. See also COLLECTION MARC AND DENYSE GINZBERG, Sotheby's, Paris, 10 Septembre 2007, fig. 125, p. 201


Kathleen Margaret Trowell. Tribal Crafts of Uganda. London: Oxford University Press, 1953

Georges Celis. " The Decorative Arts in Rwanda and Burundi" in African Arts 4(1), 1970:40-42

Margaret Carey, "Five Miniature Baskets ", In AFRICA. THE ART OF A CONTINENT, T. Phillips (ed.), pp. 158-59. Munich Prestel, 1995