Art and Life Among the Zaramo of Tanzania

by Diane Pelrine
Indiana University Art Museum

Baskets of bamboo or coarse palm fiber by Rashidi Gihimbwa, Zaramo peoples, Tanzania. Photo by Diane Pelrine.


Baskets of bamboo or coarse palm fiber are generally made by men.  This photo shows Rashidi Gihimbwa, who was recognized as an outstanding maker of winnowing trays, basketry drinking vessels, and round mats used for food preparation.  Here he holds a winnowing tray, used to separate the waste from rice and maize and to hold food.  These trays are essential to every household, and Mzee Gihimbwa's were admired because they were strong and evenly plaited, with the rims securely and neatly sewn on.  Although decoration is not usually added to the types of baskets that he made, he did occasionally add simple color patterns to his, noting that embellishing them in this way was like giving jewelry to a beautiful woman.