Posts tagged ‘zimbabwe’

Shona Sculptures from Zimbabwe

We just delivery of our first piece of Shona Sculpture from our friends at Venture Imports.

Serpentine is the stone most commonly used by the Shona Carvers;  Shona ranges in hardness from 2.0 to 5.5 on “Mohs Scale of Hardness.” It has a huge range of color variations, but most pieces will have some brown, green or black in them.

Our first piece is this beautiful “Kissing Couple” in natural stone.


Jennie from Venture Imports describes the carving process this way:

“The artists chip, chisel, sand and then wet-sand each piece. (Before sandpaper, artists would use river sand and a rag in their hands to smooth out the pieces.) Then they place the piece around, or in some cases actually in, a fire. They finish by putting floor polish on the heated piece which sinks into the piece and brings out the natural colors of the stone and makes it shiny. They keep reapplying the floor wax (they use Cobra wax, I use Johnson paste wax) until the surface cools. Then they buff it with a cloth which makes it nice and shiny.”

Jennie also explains how the carvers learn their craft:

“Most of the artists have no formal training, but they often learn as apprentices under a master sculptor. They begin by washing and polishing the master’s pieces and then start working on small pieces of their own. Some of the artists work in cooperatives which is a fun site to see. They are so quick and sing and talk while they chip away.”

More pieces will arrive soon, and will be added to our online store.

February 5, 2011 at 13:18 Leave a comment

Tonga baskets have arrived!

We’ve blogged about our Tonga baskets before; they are similar in pattern to Binga baskets from Zimbabwe, but much deeper and more robust.

Since we’ve struggled to source Binga baskets for the past year, we’ve moved more towards the Tonga baskets, though they too are prety hard to come by.

So it’s great to get a fresh batch in, though they are unlikely to be around for long! Full details can be found in our online store.

Here’s what the largest one looks like:











November 18, 2009 at 04:45 Leave a comment

Zimbabwe…..signs of progress?

We have some great products in our store from Zimbabwe, and feel like we have a closer-than-average connection to that country through interactions with some of our favorite wholesaler/importers. It’s been particularly painful to watch as the country lurches between forward and backward steps as it makes it’s way (hopefully) towards democracy and an end to violence.

There was an interesting news item from the BBC today; they’ve been allowed back in Zimbabwe, after an absence of 8 years.

Maybe this is a sign of positive days ahead?

July 29, 2009 at 23:02 Leave a comment

Fair Trade Tonga Baskets from Zambia now in the Global Fayre online store

We just added 4 Tonga baskets to our online store.

These baskets have similar tones to the Binga baskets.

This is what the 4 look like:

Small Tonga Basket

Small Tonga Basket

Medium Tonga Basket

Medium Tonga Basket

Large Tonga Basket

Large Tonga Basket

Extra Large Tonga Basket

Extra Large Tonga Basket

May 7, 2009 at 17:33 Leave a comment

Fair Trade Tonga Baskets from Zambia

We’ve always been partial to Binga Baskets from Zimbabwe, but they are a litle hard to source at the moment, so we’ve just taken delivery of some Tonga Baskets from Zambia as an alternative. They are similar in tone to the Binga Baskets, but much deeper (around 4 or 5 inches) and sturdier, and they have a cool square weave for the base. This image give you an idea, but we’ll post some more later on when we put them in our online store.

Tonga Baskets from Zambia

Tonga Baskets from Zambia

These baskets literally just arrived, so we’re a little lacking in informational material just now.

Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about them:

It takes approximately 2 weeks to complete a basket that’s about 35 cm in diameter. The baskets are made from the ilala palm (mapokwe in Tonga), which, although growing freely, is also planted by Tonga women for the purpose of basket making.Traditionally the baskets were (and still are) used for carrying maize or sorghum from the fields and then winnowing the grain. Traditional designs includes stripes, a spider web type pattern and a lightning pattern.

We’re getting an ever increasing range of baskets now, mostly from Africa. If you have a basket you are trying to find, or want to know more about, we’d love to hear from you, either on here, or via our main website,

May 6, 2009 at 13:35 1 comment

Wire and Bead Critters from Zimbabwe

A fellow member of the Fair Trade Federation, Originals from Africa, have just delivered  some beautiful wire and bead critters, made by Bernard Domingo and his team of eight in Zimbabwe. Bernard has been perfecting the art of wire and bead making for over 20 years and loves what he does. The team works in Bernard’s yard in Zimbabwe, under the shade of jacaranda trees.


The team is constantly working on new designs and improving their quality, and they love to get customer feedback. Making these products allows them to provide for their entire families and sometime other village members as well.


We’ll be adding the critters to our online store over the next few days.

April 24, 2009 at 13:00 1 comment

Zimbabwe Binga Baskets

Our latest additions to the online store today are two beautiful Binga Baskets from Zimbabwe.

We don’t get many of these (though hopefully we will have more soon) so they are unlikely to be in the store for long.

Zimbabwe Binga Basket (Large)

Zimbabwe Binga Basket (Large)

Here’s some background to the baskets:

The remote Binga district is home to the severely disadvantaged BaTonga people. In the early 1960’s, their fertile lands were permanently buried in water during construction of one of the largest man-made lakes in the world, Lake Kariba, and they were forced to relocate to their current lands that are barren and difficult to farm.

Today, some women traditionally still use wild grasses and palm leaves dyed with tree bark to weave intricately patterned baskets. These shallow bowls are still used today to winnowgrains, especially the largest of sizes.

We get these baskets from a wholesaler called Baskets of Africa, (like Global Fayre, they are members of the Fair Trade Federation) and they give this description of what it takes to track them down:

Due to the politics in Zimbabwe, these baskets are becoming more difficult to come by. It was no easy task before the political situation began to heat up…

To start collecting, a two day bus trip out to the Binga area is taken with much of the second day being on dirt roads. Then our representative walks miles and miles to go hut by hut to find the ambuyas, the elderly grandmothers that still weave the higher quality baskets. He carries the baskets back to the bus depot and brings them to the capital city of Harare for tagging, packing and shipping to the US.

Why do we collect baskets in this manner instead of buying from consolidators and middlemen? This is the only way we can fully ensure that the weavers are paid fairly for their work while also ensuring we locate the highest quality Binga baskets available.

March 23, 2009 at 16:49 7 comments

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