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There are very few places on earth that pronounce the importance of blankets more than Africa. From its people to its flora and fauna, African Blankets define the different African nations that proclaim their pride-filled living embodiment of culture, heritage, and tradition.
African blankets have an embedded sense of function and purpose fit for royalty and the value of these blankets stem from their roots.
To many, Africa is referred to as the dark continent or third world when measured against international standards, yet Africa has been at the forefront of many innovations that define first-world nations. The first successful human heart transplant and turning coal in petrol (Sasol) are just two of the many firsts that this dark and mysterious continent openly shared with the world.
Africa remains a place of mystery mostly because intricate details are often overlooked and such is the case with the many different types of African blankets.
To begin understanding the value of an African blanket one must understand the culture of the people. Through this, the importance of quality, durability, comfort, style, symbolism, warmth, protection from the blistering sun, and the embellishment of virtues will all surface.
African blankets have a history of superior workmanship and creative styling that had to appeal to an entire nation; after all, many of these blankets began as the signature identity of African nations and they are still made to the same standard today.
The ingredients to make authentic African blankets are not a secret, yet the pride and dignity associated with African blankets are protected by the people born into only accepting the standards created in their roots.
An African blanket is not just a blanket, it has a much greater significance in the lives of African people. They epitomize the spirit of Africa. Stay awhile and discover the wonders of African blankets, you may want to own one or more of the African blankets in the range below.
The Basotho Heritage Blanket is the ultimate African blanket and tops our list of incredible African blankets.
Made from South African Merino wool the blankets are lightweight, soft, and breathable. The fabric resists pilling and fading which allows for daily use without compromising the image of the nation. To add, Heritage Basotho blankets are woven with colorfast wool that won't shrink or scratch, so you can enjoy them year on year.
These heirloom-quality natural fiber blankets are crafted for comfort and are available in four different colors which are machine-washable. The characteristics of Merino wool make the Basotho blanket a highly prized asset. They are hypoallergenic, antibacterial, anti-microbial, odor resisting and their moisture-wicking properties will always ensure a comfortable thermoregulated environment, keeping you warm from the cold and cool in heated conditions.
The authentic Seanamarena Basotho heritage blanket has deep cultural significance with the design symbolizing fertility and growth, or wealth. Its tight, thick weave is soft, warm, and repels rain and wind, just as it has been designed to do for almost a century.
Crafted in South Africa from naturally renewable African virgin wool, it also passes strict internationally accepted sustainability standards and ethical practices at our mill.
Through the Playpumps initiative, 1 blanket will provide 30 kids with clean water. This simple gesture of concern helps to provide rural and outlying urban communities with clean drinking water from the play of children. It is truly a blanket that keeps on giving.
The traditional Ndebele blanket or throw is called Umbhalo, Nguba, Ngurara, or Irari and is presented to and worn by Ndebele women on their wedding day. It remains a part of their life going forward and is further adorned with beadwork that signifies important events and milestones in their lives.
South African Ndebele homesteads are renowned for their artistic, colorful, vibrant, and aesthetically pleasing geometric paintwork. This same creativity is common in their beadwork where different colors present as one fluid flowing design.
Each Ndebele pattern serves as a form of communication between the different groups of Ndebele people that were historically scattered throughout the north-eastern region of South Africa. Their artistic talent creates harmony by combining vivid and otherwise contrasting colors in geometric shapes that tend to have a tranquilizing effect.
Ndebele blankets were traditionally made from wool as they are intended to be worn daily and to last a lifetime. However, nowadays Ndebele blankets are also made from synthetic fabrics as they are just as durable but the traditional neck and ankle bead-wearing for life is beginning to fade away.
Regardless of these evolving sentiments, the Ndebele still has a strong connection to their culture and artistic expression. Although the typical Ndebele blanket resembles wide pinstripes with a complimenting wide motif decorated border, when draped or worn, the stripes form interesting attention-drawing shapes.
Kente cloth originated in Ghana and dates back to about the 11th century. It was only worn by kings, chiefs, and other royalty on important occasions. As the Asante tribe expanded and became a nation so too did Kente cloth become more accessible to ordinary members of the nation; however, its heritage was respected and the cloth remained reserved for special occasions only.
Traditionally made from silk, Kente cloth was later blended with cotton, wool, rayon, and metallic thread that improved the shine and softness of the fabric. It still retains its prestigious value and modern-day blankets and throws are made from traditional designs, each representing a significant cultural message.
Rooted in virtues, the designs and color choices often express a message of humility and love. One such design that carries a message of love is Mako Maso Adeae (my heart’s desire) meaning I love you. A man will leave a Kente cloth blanket at the front door of the lady he loves as a respectful way of announcing his intentions.
The Maasai are God’s appointed guardians over cattle. They hail from Kenya and Tanzania in the eastern part of Africa and are the last of the great warrior cultures their heritage is depicted in their clothing. Maasai wear a cloth wrap called Shuka and red is the dominant color as it represents courage, bravery, strength, and unity.
Their clothing styles change with age and social standing, and every color used in their clothing designs has significance in their daily lives. White is the color of milk and represents energy and purity, green represents the grass which cattle, their prized possession, feed on, blue is for the wide-open sky, orange represents friendship and hospitality, and yellow represents the sun. Black represents the people and the hardships that must be endured.
Maasai throws are really beautiful in their uniqueness. They are a constant reminder of the simplicity of life that engulfs the visual beauty of the world around this thriving warrior nation. The cloth Shuka is a fairly recent addition to Maasai culture and its exact origin is murky but there was a Scottish influence in the late 1800s that may explain the tartan pattern.
Mali mudcloth is one of the earliest African fabrics created by the Bambara people of Mali. The whole process of making mudcloth was time-consuming and each task was designated by gender; men were responsible for weaving the cotton while women dyed and painted the different patterns onto the fabric.
The use of different colors and hues of natural mud as well as certain types of vegetation resulted in natural earth colors. Mud dyes were prepared long beforehand and some took up to a year for the fermentation process to produce the right hue. Shading techniques using contrasting colors brought a strong cultural message in the design to life.
Many designs are a record of historic events, time-worn mythological concepts, and significant proverbs. A Mali mudcloth blanket or throw with its rich earth colors will undoubtedly transform the aesthetics of your home.
The distinction between African nations mostly lies in their culture which is expressed in their dress code. The Xhosa are rooted in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, and their cultural traditions symbolize a significant milestone in a person’s life.
Xhosa blanket designs make use of stripes with black and white featured strongly in their color choices.
The Xhosa nation is made of smaller clans and it is considered mandatory and respectful to enquire about a stranger’s clan or isiduko. The importance placed on knowing a person’s isiduko (clan) paved the way for the concept of Ubuntu (acknowledgment and kindness).
The first black president of a free democratic South Africa was Nelson Mandela and his inherited cultural values of Ubuntu touched the world. The phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” is an expression of Ubuntu which means “I am because you are, and you are because we are”.
Some Xhosa designs are intricate and detailed but the harmony of colors is what truly annunciates these soft welcoming blankets crafted by giving hands.
Kuba cloth originates from the Kuba kingdom of the Congo or DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). Made from raffia palm leaves, the fibers are woven by men into the basic fabric, then Kuba women embroider surface decorations and motifs on the fabric which are transformed into tribute cloths, ceremonial skirts, headdresses, and basketry.
The earthy colors and geometric designs outlined with a black border suggest movement or flow. Kuba blankets are soft and lightweight making the fabric ideal for the harsh climate of the Congo rain forest region.
Patterns that form the designs are steeped in history and carry a message that announces a person’s status within the nation. Kuba cloth has retained its authenticity throughout its history with one exception, the use of machines to give the cloth a more polished look. The richness associated with Kuba cloth is found in the bold designs of yesteryear.
Giraffes are the tallest animal in the world and are an awe-inspiring sight in the wild. Their graceful elegant movements have captivated the imagination of generations of people that revere the giraffe as a mystical creature. Their long necks and seemingly wobbly legs make drinking water look like a cumbersome task; however, what is truly striking about the giraffe is their patterned hide.
Giraffe print blankets are luxurious, soft, lightweight, and hypoallergenic. They carry the soul of Africa and define not only wildlife but the beauty of Africa’s endless landscapes that are inhabited by many nations, yet shared with all God’s creatures. This is nature's design that embodies three basic earth colors that have inspired the nations of Africa to find grace and harmony in simplicity.
The black and white striped zebra print may look like a failed attempt at creating an optical illusion but only when viewed individually. As a herd, zebra on the run creates confusion, and the tighter the herd runs, the greater the effect of the illusion of chaos.
This is another of Africa’s majestic creatures that bring to life the spirit of Africa. Their unique striped pattern blends well with the colors of the African bush. A herd of zebra dotted across the great plains creates a new moving pattern that is pleasing to the eye. In the same way, a zebra throw will create new and revitalizing patterns in any living space.
These throws are soft on the skin offering comfort and warmth but also offering protection with their hypoallergenic properties.
The protea is South Africa’s national flower and is indigenous to the Cape region. Protea pinstripe throws display the subtle yet rich colors of this beautiful suikerbos flower. The protea represents the uniqueness and beauty of Africa’s flora; not abundantly spread out but dependent on climate, soil, wind, rainfall, and the Atlantic moisture pushed inland.
These unbrushed cotton-rich throws are designed to be versatile and are great for both indoor and outdoor use. Named after the protea’s coloring, the pinstripe design is soft on the eye and just as soft on the skin. The hypoallergenic breathable fabric makes the protea pinstripe throw a perfect companion for almost any occasion.
The brush stroke throw is a pleasing design taken from the many different African designs and the soft pastel colors will complement elegantly styled homes. Used as a drape, hung on a blanket ladder, or styled loosely across a couch, these brushstroke throws add ambiance to a room when not used.
They are perfect as a snuggle partner on the couch or your bed. Brushstroke throws are soft and super comfortable and to help keep the throw visible you can machine wash this gem.
Here again, the fabric caters to comfort, warmth, aesthetics, but most of all it stands up to practical living with its hypoallergenic qualities.
As with all African blankets and throws, style and design are vital to messaging but the underlying benefits are what truly make African fabrics a worthy investment.
Various types of blankets are used in Africa, each with its traditional name depending on the region and culture.
Here are a few examples:
It's worth noting that while these blankets may be associated with specific regions or cultures, they are often used throughout the continent and beyond.
The Basotho blanket is called a "Kobo" or "Kobo ea Bohali" in Sesotho, which is the language of the Basotho people.
These traditional blankets are an important symbol of Basotho culture and heritage, often worn as part of the national dress of Lesotho and South Africa.
The Kobo is made from a blend of wool and acrylic fibers and features a distinctive striped design in various colors.
The blanket is known for its durability and warmth and is often used as a protective layer against the cold climate of the highlands of Lesotho.
Basotho blankets are a type of traditional blanket that the Basotho people of Lesotho and South Africa wear.
These blankets are an important part of Basotho culture and hold deep cultural and historical significance.
Basotho blankets are often made from a blend of wool and acrylic fibers, featuring a distinctive striped design in various colors.
The blankets are known for their durability and warmth and are often used as a protective layer against the cold climate of the highlands of Lesotho.
The meaning of Basotho blankets varies depending on the design and color.
Each blanket design has a specific name and story associated with it, which reflects the culture, history, and values of the Basotho people. For example:
In addition to their cultural significance, Basotho blankets are often used as a status symbol, with specific designs being more highly prized than others.
They are often given as gifts for special occasions, such as weddings or funerals, and are sometimes used as a currency in traditional Basotho society.
Basotho people wear blankets for various reasons, including cultural, practical, and symbolic reasons.
One of the main reasons why Basotho people wear blankets is for warmth, especially in the cold highlands of Lesotho, where temperatures can drop below freezing.
The blankets are made from a blend of wool and acrylic fibers and are known for their durability and warmth, making them an ideal protective layer against harsh weather conditions.
In addition to practical reasons, Basotho blankets are an essential part of Basotho culture and identity.
The blankets are often worn as part of the national dress, which includes a distinctive woven hat called a mokorotlo, a colorful shirt or dress, and a blanket draped over the shoulders.
This traditional dress is often worn for special occasions such as weddings, funerals, and other cultural ceremonies, and it is an important symbol of Basotho heritage and identity.
Basotho blankets also hold symbolic meaning, with different designs and colors representing aspects of Basotho culture and history.
For example, the Seana Marena design, which features a diamond pattern, is said to represent the shields of the warriors who protected the Basotho nation.
In contrast, the Tlali Mota design, which features a pattern of maize cobs, represents fertility and abundance.
Overall, Basotho blankets are an important part of Basotho culture and identity, serving practical, cultural, and symbolic purposes in the lives of the Basotho people.
Many countries worldwide are known for their traditional blankets, each with unique designs and cultural significance.
Some countries that are particularly famous for their blankets include:
These are just a few examples, and many other countries worldwide have unique styles of blankets that are valued for their beauty, craftsmanship, and cultural significance.
The Khotso blanket is a Basotho blanket made and sold by Aranda Textile Mills in South Africa.
The Khotso blanket is a traditional Basotho blanket with a design of blue, white, and black stripes, and it is named after the Sesotho word for "peace."
The blanket is known for its quality and durability.
It is often used by the Basotho people of Lesotho and South Africa as a protective layer against the cold weather in the highlands.
The Khotso blanket has become popular for tourists and visitors to Lesotho and South Africa interested in purchasing traditional Basotho blankets as souvenirs or gifts.
The term "Nunu blanket" refers to a traditional blanket made by the Nguni people of Southern Africa.
The Nguni people include several ethnic groups, such as the Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi, and Ndebele.
Nunu blankets are typically made using wool and feature a distinctive pattern of bold, geometric shapes and bright colors.
The designs and colors used in Nunu blankets have cultural and symbolic significance for the Nguni people, and they often reflect the individual or family who commissioned the blanket.
Nunu blankets are used for a variety of purposes, including as bedding, clothing, and ceremonial or decorative items.
It's important to note that the term "Nunu blanket" may refer to a particular blanket style among the Nguni people.
Still, the blanket's exact design and use may vary between ethnic groups or regions.
A Sami blanket, also known as a "gákti," is a traditional blanket worn by the Sami people, the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia and Russia.
The gákti is an essential part of Sami culture and heritage, and it is typically made from wool or reindeer skin.
The design of a Sami blanket varies depending on the region and the individual who made it.
Still, it usually consists of bright, bold colors and patterns that reflect the natural landscape and environment of the Sami people.
The gákti is often worn as part of traditional Sami clothing for special occasions, such as weddings, festivals, and other cultural events.
In addition to being a symbol of Sami identity and cultural heritage, the gákti also serves practical purposes such as warmth and protection from the cold weather of the Sami people's northern regions.
Using reindeer skin in some gákti designs also reflects the Sami people's close relationship with nature and their traditional way of life as reindeer herders and hunters.
Overall, the Sami blanket, or gákti, is an important and beloved part of Sami culture and heritage, representing both practical and symbolic aspects of Sami identity and way of life.
Bunny blankets are small or security blankets often designed to resemble or have the image of a bunny on them.
They are typically made of soft, plush material and are often used by infants and young children as a source of comfort and security.
Bunny blankets are sometimes called "loves" or "comfort blankets."
They can come in various sizes, colors, and designs, but they generally have a small, lightweight design that makes them easy for young children to carry around.
Bunny blankets can be a great source of comfort for young children who may be anxious or upset.
Having a soft, familiar object to hold can help them feel safe and secure, especially when they are away from home or in unfamiliar surroundings.
A swaddle blanket is a large, thin, and often stretchy blanket designed explicitly for wrapping newborn babies snugly and securely.
Swaddling is a technique of wrapping a baby in a blanket that mimics the feeling of being in the womb, which can help soothe and comfort the baby, promote better sleep, and reduce colic.
Swaddle blankets come in various materials, such as cotton, muslin, and bamboo.
They are typically lightweight, breathable, and soft to the touch.
Swaddle blankets may have specific features like Velcro or other closures to help make swaddling easier, and some may have specific designs or patterns to aid in proper swaddle placement.
Swaddling is a popular technique for calming and comforting newborn babies, and many healthcare professionals and parents find it effective in promoting healthy sleep patterns.
However, it is important to follow safe swaddling practices, such as ensuring the baby's face is not covered, avoiding over-tight wrapping, and stopping swaddling once the baby shows signs of rolling over.
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