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  Zulu Telephone Wire Baskets

from Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa

Zanzibar offers a wide and ever changing selection of handcrafted, fairly traded Zulu Telephone wire baskets.

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These bright, washable and sturdy baskets, called imbenge in the Zulu language and referred to as “scoobie” bowls in South Africa, come in myriad colors and intricate, mesmerizing designs. Woven by several cooperatives, the weavers work in their villages in the northern part of Kwazulu/Natal province of South Africa, surrounded by the rugged hills of the old Zululand. Originally crafted of downed telephone wires and used to cover baskets of beer, they can be used to store nuts, fruit, bread, or other foodstuffs, or simply admired for their beauty and workmanship. Zanzibar is proud to support subsistence farming Zulu families through our non-profit programs,  including our rural craft project that teaches men and women to weave these fairly-traded telephone wire baskets.
 

Zulu Telephone Wire Baskets  Decorative Imbenge (Not usually Water Tight but older ones can be/were) - This style of basket, originally used to cover traditional iLala palm beer baskets, has grown into a contemporary art form taken to incredible levels of skill and color.  These baskets are actually woven using plastic coated telephone wire!  Amazingly, the baskets are woven from the outside edge toward the center. 

 

Beautiful and functional, these baskets are every bit as collectable as the traditional iLala palm baskets featured above.  Zanzibar works with a cooperative made up of primarily of Zulu men who learn (are taught) to weave these amazing baskets after having been injured working in the gold and diamond mines or oil fields of South Africa.  75% of our retail price goes directly to the weavers.  Once Zulus actually downed telephone poles to get wire.  Today our cooperative foots 25% of the cost of the raw materials while the South African Government underwrites 25% and the South African Telephone company donates the other 50%!  Visit our gallery for a large selection of Zulu Telephone Wire Baskets starting around $20 and going to about $200. 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above are three vintage/antique imbenge -- two made from natural grasses/palm fiber and one made from original telephone wire!  These are VERY RARE today!  Traditionally they were used to keep flies out of large beer containers and to hold nuts and snacks for guests. 

Zanzibar Tribal Art

1731 L Street   Sacramento CA 95814

(916) 443-2057  www.zanzibar-trading.com