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  • The history of blankets is incredible

    7 min read

    a man is is sitting in the snow wrapped in blanket with cup of coffee in the hand

    Blankets Have Been Used By Humans For Thousands Of Years

    Before humans had written language, they were already snuggling up with blankets. These cozy coverings were crafted from whatever materials could provide warmth and comfort, whether animal skins or fur. The history of blankets is ancient and spans countless cultures and generations. 

    "It is always good to remember where you come from and celebrate it. To remember where you come from is part of where you are going."

    Anthony Burgess

    The rise of the Basotho blanket

    The quote above is accurate for many cultures, including Lesotho's Basotho culture, which formed a defining bond with the British Empire in the mid-19th century. 

    This helped the Basotho shape a highly significant and unique cultural tradition of wearing blankets which now serves as a national identity. 

    a women wrapped with basotho blanket

    Basotho blanket as a national symbol

    Throughout history, the story of the Basotho blanket and its rise to a national symbol and silver screen fame sounds like a most unlikely story or fable if you like; yet, it's a true story founded on mutual respect and admiration.

    Blankets are woven into the fabric of life. They are indispensable items that provide warmth, comfort, security, and style to every home worldwide. In a way, your blankets are an expression of your identity.

    Early blanket history

    Blankets have been used by humans for thousands of years, and their history is closely tied to the history of human civilization. The earliest evidence of woven blankets comes from archaeological sites in Egypt, dating back to around 3,500 BCE.

    In many cultures throughout history, blankets have played an essential role in daily life. They have been used for warmth, comfort, protection, and ceremonial and decorative purposes. 

    What did blankets mean to ancient Greece and Rome

    The ancient Greeks, for example, used blankets made from wool to cover themselves while sleeping, and the Romans used them as a form of currency.

    In North America, indigenous peoples have a long tradition of weaving blankets from materials such as wool and cotton

    These blankets have played an important role in tribal ceremonies and have been used as gifts and trade items.

    grey yarn blanket

    Blankets were considered luxury items

    During the Middle Ages in Europe, blankets were a luxury item reserved for the wealthy. They were often decorated with intricate designs and made from expensive materials like silk and velvet.

    The industrial revolution changed it all

    With the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, the production of blankets became more efficient and affordable, allowing them to become more widely used and accessible to people of all classes.

    Today, blankets come in various materials, sizes, and styles. They are used for everything from providing warmth and comfort in the home to being used as emergency supplies in disaster situations.

    Blankets as fur and hide were first

    Although We can trace the origin of blankets back to ancient Egypt in or around 3000BC. We can safely assume Animal hides and furs are some of the first blankets used, in all probability, well before 3000 BC. 

    However, the "exact" origin and invention of the blanket as we know it is practically impossible. Blankets were most likely developed independently in different cultures worldwide and shaped accordingly.

    How blankets were made in ancient times 

    In ancient times, blankets were made from animal hides and plant fibers and used primarily for warmth and protection. 

    Over time, as societies developed and became more advanced, the materials and methods used to make blankets evolved. 

    a women with blanket on head

    Blankets in the Middle ages

    By the Middle Ages, wool had become the primary material used to make blankets, and wool continued to dominate the blanket industry until the advent of synthetic fibers in the 20th century.

    Blankets and the Spinning Jenny 

    One of the most critical developments in the history of the blanket was the invention of the spinning jenny, the machine that allowed for the mass production of yarn

    This invention made it possible to produce large quantities of woolen cloth to make blankets, clothing, and other textiles.

    Synthetic fiber blankets changed it all

    In the 20th century, the development of synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon revolutionized the blanket industry. 

    These materials offered many advantages over traditional materials like wool and cotton, including increased durability, resistance to shrinkage, and lower costs

    As a result, synthetic fibers became the dominant materials used in the production of textiles and remain so today

    Blankets have played a crucial role in civilization

    While the exact inventor of the blanket is unknown, blankets have played a crucial role in human history and have been an essential part of our lives for thousands of years. 

    Blankets are an essential part of human history

    Today, blankets continue to be an essential part of our lives, providing comfort, warmth, a sense of security, and, not to forget, a style that elevates our emotional bliss.

    What makes wool some of the best blanket fibers to this day

    That said, synthetic fibers find it hard to match up to natural fibers like wool.

    Technological advancements can only replicate the characteristics of wool into a synthetic fiber with compromise. Some of the characteristics of wool include:

    • Antimicrobial, antifungal, and hypoallergenic characteristics.
    • Moisture wicking ability
    • Fire resistant properties
    • Thermoregulation
    • Odor resistant

    This combination of attributes makes wool the ideal blanket material choice. 

    A women carrying her baby and wrapped in Thula Tula Blanket

    Blankets are one the authentic artifacts of human ingenuity and teamwork

    Blankets are a product of human ingenuity and have been shaped by different cultures and civilizations' needs and technological advancements throughout history. 

    The blanket remains an essential part of our lives, whether made from animal hides, plant fibers, wool, or synthetic materials. It continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of society.

    History of the Basotho Blanket

    The Basotho blanket is a traditional garment that originated in the Basotho tribe of Lesotho, a small country landlocked within South Africa. 

    The Basotho blanket is known for its vibrant colors and intricate patterns that have become an essential part of the cultural heritage of the Basotho people.

    a man is sitting on the horse with blanket by Thula Tula

    Blankets in Africa and the Basotho blanket

    The history of the Basotho blanket can be traced back to the mid-19th century when the first blankets were brought to Lesotho by European traders. 

    The Basotho people live in a remote, rugged, mountainous region that can be extremely cold in winter.

    Blankets provide a much-needed source of warmth during these cold winter months, and equally important, the Basotho wool blanket provides protection from the wind and sun throughout the year.

    The Basotho blanket colors, patterns, and designs 

    Over time, the Basotho people introduced their own patterns and designs where different colors represented an aspect of their culture. This distinguished their blankets from those of other tribes and also standing within their own community. 

    The royal crown jewel of the Basotho blanket, "Seanamarena," is produced in various designs, of which the most characteristic is the "Poone" or the "corncob," which symbolizes fertility and growth.

    The Basotho Blanket is representative of the Basotho culture

    Basotho blankets symbolize status, wealth, pride, and cultural identity.

    Over time, the blanket became rooted in the Basotho culture as a shelter against the cold and a bold and beautiful expression of Basotho virtues, status, and unity.

    In the late 19th century, the British colonial government established a wool industry in Lesotho, providing employment and income for the Basotho people. The wool was used to produce blankets, clothing, and other textiles.

    In the years that followed, the Basotho blanket became an essential part of the cultural heritage of Lesotho. 

    The Basotho Blankets are used in ceremonies and rituals

    Basotho blankets became an integral part of traditional ceremonies and rituals.

    These blankets are given as a gift to show respect and admiration. The Basotho blanket was also seen as a symbol of hope and resilience, as the Basotho people faced numerous challenges, including wars, famine, and disease.

    In the 20th century, the z experienced a resurgence in popularity, as it was embraced by the international fashion community. 

    Designers worldwide began incorporating the unique patterns and colors of the Basotho blanket into their collections, and this blanket/garment became a sought-after fashion item.

    a women in blanket carrying her baby in hands

    The Basotho Blanket Renaissance

    Today, the Basotho blanket remains an integral part of the cultural heritage of Lesotho.


    It is still woven by hand using traditional techniques, sold in local markets, and exported to countries worldwide.

    The Basotho blanket remains a symbol of pride, hope, resilience, and cultural identity for the people of Lesotho.

    The Basotho blanket is a unique and beautiful garment with rich history and cultural significance. 

    From its origins as a source of warmth to its modern-day status as a fashion icon, the Basotho blanket has remained a central part of the cultural heritage of Lesotho for over a century.

    Wearing the Basotho blanket 

    There is a difference in how men and women wear their Basotho blankets.

     A male would wear the darker side outwards, and a female the lighter. 

    Blankets worn with their stripes should always be in a vertical position, symbolizing growth and prosperity. 

    The blanket should be folded at the top and adjusted to the correct size. It should drape and open to the right side for males or the front for females. 

    A pin should secure the blanket on the right shoulder or the front and be displayed prominently for females but hidden for males.

    A blanket worn by a Basotho reveals diverse information to community members. It touches every aspect of the life cycle.

    Such is the symbolic message crafted into each blanket.

    In conclusion

    As we can see, blankets play an integral part in nearly every culture worldwide. The warmth and protection blankets bring to many have been as crucial as water.  

    The Basotho blanket is integral to Sesotho culture and tradition. It has been for centuries and holds special meaning to those who wear it as a symbol of family lineage, power, status, and more. So do Blankets mean to

    The Basotho people take pride in their blankets and use them to demonstrate respect for one another and their own. They are also particularly proud when other cultures embrace the Basotho blankets.

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