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  • Tips on When, Where and How To Wear a Basotho Blanket

    8 min read

    HOW TO WEAR A BASOTHO BLANKET - Basotho blanket women standing in green grass overlooking lesotho

    Your favorite Basotho blanket has a rich history.

    How To Wear A Basotho Blanket

    The Basotho Blanket originated in 1860 in Lesotho South Africa when King Moshoeshoe received a blanket from a French missionary. Moshoeshoe was delighted with the gift and wore it over his shoulders. This was the beginning of the blanket wearing tradition, and soon after forever replaced the animal skin karosses as the kingdom’s primary attire.

    Basotho man wearing Basotho Blanket

    Here's to your comfort

    Kobo Ke Bophelo (The blanket is life)

    All Thula Tula products are sustainably and ethically handcrafted in South Africa using the very best materials. Find your favorite Mudcloth  below.

    When, where and why to wear a Basotho Blanket

    When, where, and why the blanket is worn, carry nuances that elude most people who aren’t familiar with the Lesotho region. 

    For example, a new bride would wear a blanket wrapped around her hips so that she would “stay warm”, as warmth typically is associated with fertilization.

    The symbolism associated with the blanket is far-reaching and encompasses different practices. Here are some more examples of how the Basotho blanket is used as more than just a blanket:

    When to Wear a Basotho Blanket

    1.  At a baby's birth, the child is wrapped in a special blanket, the same blanket is later used by the mother to carry her child.
    2.  As a sign of respect, a woman would cover her shoulders with a blanket, especially in the presence of her father-in-law or on public occasions such as funerals and church gatherings. 
    3.  As a gesture of union, typically how a Westerner would present an engagement ring to his bride to be, a husband would present his bride with a Basotho wedding blanket
    4. Gifting your bride: The blanket may also form part of “bohali”, the gifts given to the bride's parents as part of the agreement or union of marriage between families. 
    5. Right of passage: When a boy goes through puberty he will wear a special blanket as proof that he has reached manhood in the Basotho culture
    6. Coronations: Other memorable events are also marked by a blanket, such as during the prestigious coronation of a king, or induction of a chief, but equally as majestic and rich in meaning is the simple gesture of gifting a person with a blanket when about to venture on a long journey.  
    7. Death: Even in death, it is customary to wrap the deceased in a blanket as a gesture of warmth. 
    Basotho Man with horse wearing a Basotho blanket

    Even if blanket wearing is not fully understood by the Western world, it is impossible not to take notice of its beautiful symbolism of warmth, security, peace, and pleasantness. 

    Tips on how to wear a Basotho blanket

    Some tips if you plan to wear your Basotho Blanket:

    • An adult male would wear the darker side outwards, and a female the lighter
    • Blankets are worn with their stripes always in a vertical position, symbolizing growth and prosperity 
    • The blanket should be folded at the top, and adjusted to the right size 
    • The Basotho blanket is worn in all circumstances and the most humble surroundings, as well as in the most important places. The Basotho feel that “appearing in a blanket adds gravity, elegance and a certain symbolism to the event”. It is considered formal wear. 
    • When manual labor is performed, the blanket is either discarded or doubled up and hung over one shoulder by men, so as not to soil the blanket. Men also fasten the blanket on the right shoulder, leaving the right arm free for movement or action.

    Below is the traditional way that Basotho people have worn their blankets for over 140 years 

    how to wear a Basotho blanket is worn traditionally

    Watch the quick Video to see how Angela wears her Basotho blanket

    Read Other great Basotho Blanket blogs

    FAQ - The Questions You want Answered

    What is the best fabric for baby blankets?

    The Sotho blanket is a traditional garment worn by the Basotho people of Lesotho and South Africa. It is typically made of thick wool and is known for its vibrant colors and patterns.

    To wear a Sotho blanket, follow these steps:

    1. Fold the blanket in half lengthwise to align the two shorter edges.
    2. Hold the folded blanket behind your back, with the folded edge at the top and the two loose ends in front of you.
    3. Bring the two loose ends over your shoulders and across your chest, crossing them over each other.
    4. Bring the ends down behind your back and tie them in a knot at your waist.
    5. Adjust the blanket so that it fits comfortably and looks neat.

    The Sotho blanket can be worn as a cloak, a skirt, or a shawl, depending on how it is folded and tied. It is often worn as a symbol of cultural identity and pride and is commonly seen at traditional ceremonies and festivals.

    What does the Basotho blanket Symbolise?

    The Basotho blanket is an important cultural symbol for the Basotho people of Lesotho and South Africa. It has several symbolic meanings, including:

    1. Identity: The Basotho blanket symbolizes Basotho's cultural identity and pride. It is worn by men and women of all ages on special occasions and in everyday life.
    2. Status: The blanket is also a status symbol, with different colors and patterns indicating different levels of wealth, rank, and social standing.
    3. Protection: The thick woolen material of the blanket provides warmth and protection against the cold weather in the highlands of Lesotho and South Africa.
    4. Tradition: The Basotho blanket is deeply rooted in Basotho tradition and is an integral part of their cultural heritage. It is often used in traditional ceremonies and rituals.
    5. Unity: The blanket symbolizes unity and solidarity among the Basotho people, who have a strong sense of community and collective identity.

    Overall, the Basotho blanket is a powerful cultural symbol that represents the history, traditions, and values of the Basotho people.

    How do men wear Basotho blankets?

    Basotho men wear blankets in various styles, depending on the occasion and personal preference. Here are some of the most common ways that men wear Basotho blankets:

    1. As a shoulder throw: The blanket is draped over one shoulder and hangs down the back, freeing one arm. This style is commonly worn for everyday use or during formal occasions.
    2. As a cloak: The blanket is wrapped around the body and fastened at the neck with a pin or brooch, freeing the arms. This style is often worn for ceremonial occasions or when traveling.
    3. As a headwrap: The blanket is wrapped around the head and tied in a knot at the back. This style is typically worn for warmth or protection from the sun.
    4. As a skirt: The blanket is wrapped around the waist and secured with a belt, creating a long skirt. Men commonly wear this style during traditional dances or ceremonies.
    5. As a shawl: The blanket is draped over the shoulders and wrapped around the arms, freeing the hands. This style is often worn for warmth or comfort.

    These are just a few examples of how Basotho men wear blankets. The style and color of the blanket can vary depending on the occasion and personal preference.

    What are Basotho blankets called?

    Basotho blankets are traditionally called "Kobo ea Mosotho" in the Sesotho language, which translates to "blanket of the Basotho." They are also sometimes called "Seanamarena" blankets, the name of a specific type of blanket produced by Aranda Textile Mills in South Africa.

    Basotho blankets are known for their bright colors and bold geometric patterns. They are typically made from a thick woolen material to provide warmth in the cold highlands of Lesotho and South Africa. The blankets are an important cultural symbol for the Basotho people and are often worn for special occasions such as weddings, funerals, and traditional ceremonies. They also have practical uses such as bedding or protection from the weather during long journeys on horseback, which has been a standard mode of transport for the Basotho people for centuries.

    Why do Sotho people wear blankets?

    The Sotho people, who are a Bantu ethnic group from Lesotho and South Africa, wear blankets for several reasons, including:

    1. Cultural identity: The Sotho people have a long history of wearing blankets to symbolize their cultural identity and pride. The blankets are often brightly colored and feature bold geometric patterns specific to different regions or families.
    2. Protection from the weather: Lesotho and parts of South Africa can get very cold, especially in the highlands, and blankets provide warmth and protection from the elements.
    3. Practicality: Sotho blankets are often made from thick woolen material, which makes them durable and practical for everyday use. They can also be used as bedding or saddle blankets for horses.
    4. Status and hierarchy: Different types of Sotho blankets are associated with different levels of wealth, rank, and social standing. For example, some blankets are reserved for chiefs or other high-ranking individuals.
    5. Tradition and ceremony: Sotho blankets are an important part of traditional ceremonies and rituals, such as weddings, funerals, and coming-of-age ceremonies. The blankets are often worn as part of traditional attire and accessories like beaded jewelry and headdresses.

    Overall, Sotho blankets are a rich and meaningful part of Sotho culture and tradition and continue to play an important role in the daily lives and special occasions of the Sotho people.

    How do sothos wear?

    People wear various clothing styles, depending on the occasion and personal preference. Here are some examples of traditional Sotho clothing for men and women:

    1. Women's Clothing: Sotho women traditionally wear a long dress called a "Seshoeshoe" or "Shweshwe." This dress is made from brightly colored cotton fabric and features intricate designs and patterns. Women often wear a matching headwrap, called a "dork," with their dress.
    2. Men's Clothing: Sotho men traditionally wear a "Skitisho" or "Madiba shirt," similar to a Western-style shirt but has a more relaxed fit and often features colorful patterns. Men also wear trousers or shorts and may add a traditional Sotho blanket over their shoulders for warmth or cultural accessory.
    3. Accessories: Both men and women often wear beaded jewelry, such as necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, as well as woven hats or caps.
    4. Traditional Attire: For special occasions such as weddings, funerals, or cultural ceremonies, Sotho people may wear traditional attire such as the "Seshoeshoe" dress for women and the "Madiba shirt," Sotho blanket for men. These outfits are often more elaborate and may feature more intricate patterns and designs.

    It is important to note that clothing styles and traditions can vary among different Sotho communities and regions and that contemporary fashion also influences how people dress today.

    What is the history of Sotho blankets?

    The history of Sotho blankets dates back to the 19th century when the Basotho people of Lesotho and South Africa first encountered European traders and missionaries. The Basotho people were known for their skill in animal husbandry and farming and traded wool and other goods with the Europeans in exchange for textiles and other items.

    At first, the Basotho people used European textiles to make clothing and other household items. However, as the demand for warm clothing grew in the cold highlands of Lesotho, the Basotho began to adopt European textiles to create blankets that were better suited to their needs. They used traditional weaving and embroidery techniques to decorate the blankets with geometric patterns and bright colors, creating a unique style synonymous with Basotho culture.

    Over time, the production of Sotho blankets became an essential industry in Lesotho and South Africa. Today, several regional companies produce Sotho blankets using traditional and modern manufacturing techniques. The blankets are still an important cultural symbol for the Basotho people and are worn for special occasions and everyday use. They are also exported to other parts of the world, where they are appreciated for their beauty and craftsmanship.

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