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Men and women of the Basotho nation wear their Basotho blankets differently, but this does not alter the significance of the blanket itself.
The Basotho blanket is worn over other clothing to emphasise a common identity as part of the Basotho people. The design and type of blanket depict the persons standing within the community and hold value as a status symbol.
Basotho blankets are divided into three classes based on the material they are made from. First and second-class blankets are made from 90% wool and a 10% cotton blend, whereas the third-class blankets are made from acrylic.
Basotho Blankets are part of Basotho ceremonies like the right of passage where boys become men and girls become women.
The Basotho blanket is gifted to a baby at birth and as a wedding gift as well as being used in funerals where the deceased are wrapped in a blanket. Basotho blankets can be seen as the outer identity of a Basotho person because it displays their life journey and reveals their status within the nation.
Loyalty and respect are deep-rooted in Basotho culture, and wearing blankets is not only functional but also serves to pay homage to their king, almost in a likeness of being manner. Honouring of Basotho's elders and their ancestors is taught from birth, and the blanket serves as a symbolic gesture of righteous standing within the nation.
The Kingdom of Lesotho is a small landlocked country completely surrounded by South Africa and is nestled in the Drakensberg mountains. The Basotho people of Lesotho migrated to the area in the 17th century from the northern parts of southern Africa that cover Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.
Although the kingdom was initially a lot larger when established, much of the land was dispossessed through tribal wars and the Dutch settlers claiming farmland in the Free State province of South Africa.
As a Bantu tribe, ( Bantu meaning several peoples forming a linguistically and in some respects culturally interrelated family in central and southern Africa.) the Basotho were no different to other Bantu tribes with the wearing of animal skins, feathers and headgear, which pronounced the status of the person within the tribe.
All this changed for the Basotho in 1860 when European settlers gave gifts to King Moshoeshoe. 1. and among the gifts was a woollen blanket. He was so impressed with the first Basotho blanket that he replaced his leopard skins with it.
To understand why the king preferred the Basotho blanketto his leopard skin, one only has to understand how different the climate is compared to the rest of Southern Africa. Winters can be extremely cold with regular snowfalls, and the wind at such high altitudes can be unbearably cold even during the summer months.
The Basotho grew accustomed to seeing their king wearing the Basotho blanket, and in 1897 British Queen Victoria visited Lesotho, which was then called Basuto land. She presented a blanket as a gift to then King Lerotholi Letsie. The blanket was named Victoria England after the queen and was regarded as a status symbol from then on.
The designs or patterns on Basotho blankets each tell a story. The blankets have the customary label depicting the material used and other details that are always displayed outwards when wearing the Basotho blanket. This is done as a matter of pride and not so much as a brag.
Bantu history pre-colonisation was largely passed down through the generations in the form of folklore, song, cave paintings and rock engravings of tribal activities like animal hunts. To a large degree, what was originally written on Bantu history was compiled by early European missionaries.
As we all know, folklore paints a biased picture of the past where even the defeated are hailed as heroes. This is common among all people of the world, where facts are distorted to keep hope alive.
The history and significance of the Basotho blanket have had their fair share of distorted interpretations and meaning. Distorted interpretations are common when discussing fertility, and emphasis is placed solely on the woman, but the concept of fertility in the Basotho context goes a lot deeper. It encapsulates the fertility of the soil, the growth of plant life (crops), and livestock, which all contribute to the nation's health and well-being.
But, regardless of this fact, the Basotho blanket holds great significance to the Basotho people and because of strict controls and a deeply cultured people, the history has pretty much remained untarnished.
The culture and traditions of the Basotho people have remained intact thanks to a lack of tribal conflict and the difficulty of travel within the mountain kingdom. Most of the kingdom is only accessible by foot or on horseback.
Wearing of Basotho blankets became part of the Basotho culture towards the end of the 1800s, so it has a relatively recent history, and although the world has changed dramatically, Lesotho and the Basotho people have managed to keep their culture and traditions alive and well.
There is a wide range of Basotho blankets especially designed for ceremonies and special occasions. Each Basotho household will have a dozen or more blankets in their possession at any given time, and it is culturally expected of subjects to wear the correct Basotho blanket that fits the occasion.
Strict control over Basotho blanket designs is maintained, and each design must display and relate to the Basotho culture. Every design must be approved by the king, and the blankets' manufacturing is only permitted by one company in South Africa called Aranda. This is apart from the Victoria England range that was always manufactured in England but to a lesser degree nowadays.
The rights to manufacture this range by Aranda in South Africa were granted, and instead of "Made in England" displayed on the label, it now just states "England" with the "Made in" removed.
The list below will give you an idea of the importance of blanket design for specific occasions. It also highlights the link between the British and the Basotho nations.
The Basotho blanket is a traditional woolen blanket worn by the Basotho people, a Bantu ethnic group native to the Kingdom of Lesotho and parts of South Africa.
The blanket is an important cultural symbol with practical and symbolic significance for the Basotho people.
Practically, the Basotho blanket is worn as a form of protection against the cold weather in the high mountains of Lesotho.
Symbolically, the blanket is a marker of Basotho identity and represents the wearer's cultural heritage, history, and status.
The patterns and colors of the blanket also have specific meanings and are often associated with different clans and families within the Basotho community.
The Basotho blanket is also a symbol of the relationship between the Basotho people and the British Empire.
The blanket was introduced to the Basotho people by European traders and became a popular item of clothing during the late 19th century.
Today, the Basotho blanket is produced locally in Lesotho and by companies outside of Lesotho.
It has become a popular item of clothing and a symbol of African heritage worldwide.
The Basotho blanket is called a "Kobo" in the Sesotho language.
It is a traditional garment worn by the Basotho people of Lesotho and South Africa.
It is made from a thick woolen material that provides warmth in the cold mountainous regions where they live.
The Kobo is often decorated with bright colors and intricate patterns and symbolizes Basotho culture and identity.
The Seanamarena Basotho blanket is known as the "Mountain Kingdom" blanket.
It is one of the most iconic and recognizable designs in Basotho blanket history.
The blanket features a white background with bold black and yellow stripes and a central diamond pattern in various colors.
The history of the Basotho blanket dates back to the early 19th century when King Moshoeshoe I founded the Basotho kingdom.
At that time, the Basotho people wore animal hides and furs as clothing to protect themselves from the harsh mountain weather of Lesotho.
However, with the arrival of European traders and missionaries, the Basotho began to wear imported woolen blankets as a form of clothing.
One of the most popular blankets the Basotho people wore was the Welsh tapestry blanket, which was imported from the United Kingdom.
The Welsh tapestry blankets were known for their durability, warmth, and intricate designs, and they quickly became popular among the Basotho people.
In the 1860s, a South African textile company called Aranda began producing a version of the Welsh tapestry blanket for the Basotho market.
The Aranda blankets were made of high-quality wool and featured designs and patterns inspired by Basotho culture and tradition.
Today, the Basotho blanket is an important cultural symbol for the Basotho people and is produced both locally in Lesotho and by companies outside of Lesotho.
The blankets continue to be worn as a form of protection against the cold weather and a symbol of Basotho identity, heritage, and status.
The Basotho people are a Bantu ethnic group native to the Kingdom of Lesotho and parts of South Africa.
They have a rich cultural heritage and are known for their unique traditions, customs, and way of life.
Here are some of the things that are special about the Basotho:
Overall, the Basotho people are a resilient, proud, and culturally rich community with a deep connection to their history, traditions, and way of life.
The Basotho people have a rich and unique culture shaped by their history, traditions, and way of life.
Here are some of the things that are unique about Basotho culture:
The Basotho culture is characterized by a strong sense of community, pride in their heritage, and a deep connection to their land and natural environment.
The Basotho people have traditionally practiced a form of African traditional religion that involves the worship of ancestors, spirits, and supreme beings.
This traditional religion is still practiced by many Basotho today, although Christianity and Islam have also gained significant numbers of followers.
Christianity was introduced to Lesotho by European missionaries in the 19th century and has since become the dominant religion, with a majority of Basotho being Christian, mainly of the Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations. Islam has a smaller following among the Basotho, primarily among the immigrant population and converts.
Like all Basotho people, Sotho girls have unique and colorful traditional attire that reflects their cultural identity.
Here are some of the things that Sotho girls wear:
Overall, traditional Sotho attire is a beautiful and colorful expression of their cultural heritage and is an essential part of their identity as a people.
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