In the small traditional village of Mothlabaneng which is situated 45km from Mashatu and is home to a large percentage of the Mashatu staff.
Tsasile Eta Basket Group in Setswana means ‘The day is coming’. It is a craft center for the woman of Mothlabaneng who come together and express their creative talent through weaving. The woman of this group, headed up by Ma Jane, vary from young to old, each learning the skill and art of weaving from their elders. Jane recalls learning how to weave with the local Lala Palms from her grandmother, and has since carried the art form through to the current youth of Mothlabaneng.
The crafts are made from the leaves and stems of the indigenous Lala Palms, which the ladies harvest for weaving materials. It’s not an easy task collecting the newest shoots of the palms, which sit right in the center of the tree. Once collected, the new shoots are stripped into usable and non-usable threads, the usable threads then being boiled and dried for extra durability and the non-usable discarded. The signature tones of varied browns are created using a natural dye that is harvested from the Brown Ivory Tree. Strips of bark of the tree are boiled to extract the pigment which is use to stain the leaves of the palms before weaving.
Photographs and Text By: Ruth Nussbaum