Art and Initiation in Western Zambia

by Manuel Jordán
Musical Instrument Museum (formerly Birmingham Museum of Art)

Women making baskets, Lunda peoples, Chitofu Village, Zambia, 1992. Photo by Manuel Jordán.


During hot afternoon hours, Lunda women may return to the village from their agricultural fields to work on less physically demanding chores under the shade of trees or shelters. These two Lunda women work on baskets that they may keep to hold grains, sell, or trade for other goods. The woman in the foreground, Maria Chitofu, creates a basket with natural fibers, which she decorates with strings she has darkened with mud. Her sister, Joyce Chitofu, combines natural fibers with plastic strings from commercial flour sacks to construct her basket. Joyce decorates her basket with imported cotton thread she buys at the market. She claims her baskets are more durable and attractive than Maria's.