Art and Life Among the Zaramo of Tanzania

by Diane Pelrine
Indiana University Art Museum

Basketry, Zaramo peoples, Tanzania. Photo by Diane Pelrine.


Basketry objects are profusely common among the Zaramo, and while most are made by specialists, one of the most striking types to Western eyes is a disposable basket made out of freshly cut palm fronds that people generally construct for their own use.  The baskets are meant to be used for just one day and are wonderfully supple and surprisingly strong.  They are usually made to hold personal effects or market produce.  The green of the basket creates a beautiful contrast of colors when these baskets are filled with oranges, a scene common in markets.  Baskets such as these are not unique to the Zaramo, but are made by people in many parts of Africa, South America, and the islands of the South Pacific.