Basket-making was for a long time a woman’s craft. The technique was first of all used for purely utilitarian objects such as mats, rice baskets, bags, baskets, keep-nets, and hats. It then developed towards more decorative objects such as curtains, frames, place-mats or raffia objects.
Many fibrous plants were used for weaving : rush, bamboo, reed, as well as the palms, leaves, and bark of some trees. In the Antananarivo region, where we get our products from, the fibres that are most used are sisal and raffia.
The work always unfolds in the same way. The plant is cut, sun-dried, softened and sometimes cooked in ash. It is then cut with a small knife into very fine straps, lengthwise. Once the preparations are done, the meticulous weaving can start.
This fibre comes from the leaves of a plant called Agave sisalana, originally from Mexico, and very abundant on the island. It is cultivated for its great resistance to weaving.
As for raffia, it originates from the huge leaves of a palm tree named Raphia farinifera, and is native to Madagascar. It is mostly used for weaving raffia matting, this supple fabric that is used for making bags, baskets, and curtains.
The multiple techniques of basket-making
Fibre-weaving techniques are so varied that we will not be able to name them all. They often give their names to the objects. In our warehouse we offer objects made in aravola, pinj, moramanga, and rariboka.