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Bolga Baskets

Internationally known as Bolga baskets, the baskets are exclusively woven by the indigenous people of a historical town in Northern Ghana called Bolgatanga.  Bolgatanga literally means soft soil, rocky land.

Weaving has been a traditional skill of these people over the years. The geographical land area of Bolgatanga is not fertile enough for extensive agricultural activities. Coupled with an erratic rainfall pattern and generally harsh weather conditions, handicraft activities such as basket weaving, leatherwork, and pottery are undertaken mostly by the women to supplement their incomes from the subsistence farming activities.

The original Bolga basket was woven round, without any form of handle. The ends of the straw were left untrimmed. It was used basically as a sieve in the brewing of a local alcoholic beverage called pito.  Pito was and it is still an important drink during such occasions as funerals, marriage ceremonies, and festivals, naming ceremonies and at other important social gatherings.

With a population of about 225,000, only 10,000 people from 19 communities possess the basket weaving skill in Bolgatanga, which has been passed on from generation to generation in the community. Today, the Bolga basket has become an object of tourist attraction.   With different forms, designs and colourful patterns, the basket is loved for its unique designs and colourful patterns. There have been several attempts particularly by some Asian countries to imitate the Bolga basket and called them African baskets. However, just like all other imitated products, the Bolga basket is differentiated from the non-authentic ones by its rigid body, the use of the straw of the "veta vera" grass locally called the elephant grass against the flabby imitated ones made from sea grass.

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