Botswana’s arts and crafts originated out of necessity, their crafts were functional as well as appealing to the eye. Since then, artists, painters and sculptors in the country take inspiration from their heritage and culture while giving these traditional crafts a modern twist with a style of their own. Over the next few months, we will be looking at some of the traditional crafts and art forms that have followed Botswana into the modern age.
The history of wooden crafts can be seen throughout Africa and Botswana is no exception. The Hambukushu from northern Botswana and the Basubiya from the north eastern regions of the country are most renowned for their wooden crafts.
Wood can be carved into everyday objects such as knives and other kitchen utensils, thumb pianos, chairs and drums, which are commonly sold at roadside stalls or the craft-co-operatives that can be found in most towns. The Hambukushu people are well known for their artistic carvings of animals and simple yet distorted style of human figurines.
Crafts centres and shops in towns like Gaborone, Gumare, Serowe, Ghanzi, Francistown, Maun and Kasane showcase and sell a variety of wooden arts and crafts, either to use at home or for a keepsake to remember your time in beautiful Botswana.
Clay pots play an integral role in Botswana’s history and were used in everyday life for storing water, grains, traditional beer and used for cooking.
Traditionally, it was up to the women to collect the clay and mould it into various shapes and sizes, depending on the use of the pot. The most sought after clays are kaolin based, which produce red and brown colours. Once the form of the pot has been set, the women decorate the pots with patterns and pictures using natural oxides. Today, pots are mostly found in the south and east of the country, where the best clay soils are to be found.
Clay pots have been used in Botswana for so many generations that the step towards creating them for resale seemed only natural. Commercial pottery centres are found in Thamaga, Molepolole, Kanye and Gaborone where you can buy beautifully adorned clay pots or even learn to make your own to keep.