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Arts and Crafts in Zambia

The most authentic wooden carvings are headrests or pillows, stools, decorated bowls, sticks, spoons, snuffboxes and drums. Makenge baskets are a local speciality as they are made exclusively in western Zambia. Small figure carvings are mostly made in the west of Zambia including decoratively carved food dishes, headrests, mbira lamellophones, distinctive baskets, clay pipe bowls carved in animal form, excellent pottery, and fine brass, copper, and aluminum wire intricately wound and plaited to embellish ax handles, hilts and sheaths, and snuff bottles. Companies that offer arts and crafts in Zambia include Lightfoot Zambia, Kubu Crafts, Afrikolor Batiks and Mukuni Park and Curio.

Baskets in Zambia

Zambia is among the finest basketry within Africa. The traditional Tonga basket has a square woven base and a wide round rim at the top. You can use these baskets just for decoration, or as a decorative way to store and display food, toys, magazines - just about anything. Tonga baskets fulfill both a functional and decorative purpose, often being used as a stunning wall hanging idea, as a tray, as well as a table or shelf accessory.

It takes about two weeks to complete a basket about 35 cm in diameter. The baskets are made from the ilala palm (mapokwe in tonga), which, although growing freely, is also planted by Tonga women for the purpose of making baskets. Traditionally, the baskets were, and still are in some parts of the country used for carrying maize and sorghum from the fields.

There are baskets that are normally decorated with symbolic designs using traditional dyes made from different coloured soils, roots, barks and leaves. The Lozi and Mbunda people in the Western Province are skilled in this craft.

Jewelry in Zambia

Jewelry is a popular art form and is used to indicate rank, affiliation with a group, or purely for aesthetics.

Zambia offers beautifully crafted jewelry which is made by Zambians from such diverse materials such as Tiger's eye stone, haematite, sisal, coconut shell, beads and ebony wood. These materials are used by Zambian artisans to make jewelry such as necklaces, earrings and bracelets.

Masks in Zambia

Masks are representatives of the ancient African history and culture. The Zambian people show great honor to their ancestors and they design their masks with elaborate hair and jewelry to pay respect to their ancestors which they believe will please them and also bring them blessings. Masks have been greatly admired in African culture and are one of the best crafts of the African people.

In Zambia the Mbunda, the Luvale, and the Chokwe make masks; those of the former are made of wood, and those of the latter two are made of painted coarse bark cloth on a wicker frame. Each type is worn with a netted string costume or a fibre skirt. As with the Makonde, the masks may be worn at makishi dances (held at the new moon), in initiation ceremonies, or for public entertainments.

Materials in Zambia

Zambian art takes many forms and is made from many different materials. Materials used in crafting Zambian curios include hard wood, semi-precious stones, gold, ornamental malachite, copper, fibre, animal skin, paints and reed mats. The materials used usually depend on the area of the country where the artisans live. These materials are carefully used and worked on by Zambian artisans to come up with beautiful and neat arts and crafts.