Basotho blankets on show

2019-06-05 06:00
Basotho Blankets on exhibition. Photo: Supplied

Basotho Blankets on exhibition. Photo: Supplied

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A large collection of Basotho blankets can be viewed at the Annex Gallery, Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein. The Basotho Blankets Exhibition will close on 23 June.

The anthropology collection of the National Museum houses a large collection of Basotho blankets. Most of them are part of the Robertson collection, on loan from Neil Robertson’s family. Neil Robertson was a third-generation tradesman in Basotho blankets, the grandson of Charles Hendry Robertson.

The beginnings of the blanket culture can be traced back to 1823 when a French missionary presented a blanket to King Moshoeshoe I.

He accepted this gift and draped it over his shoulders like a poncho and so started a clothing revolution among the Basotho people.

From that day onwards animal skin karosses started losing their status as the normal clothing to keep out the bitter cold of the mountains, and blankets soon became the stock in trade for the Basotho.

In 1877 Donald Fraser first began to sell blankets in Lesotho.

At the turn of the 20th century Charles Stephens, who was known as Seanamarena, owned a trading store in Hlotse (Leribe) which was known locally by the same name as its owner. Later Charles Hendry Robertson bought the store and retained the name Seanamarena. He started importing Basotho blankets in his own special designs and colours.

The collection includes a Sandringham mountain rug or Mohodu dating back to 1934, and a Badges of the brave blanket honouring those who fought during World War II (1939-1945).

For details on the exhibition contact the Oliewenhuis Art Museum on 051-011-0525 (ext 200) or oliewen@nasmus.co.za.

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