This small, finely woven prestige basket (igiseke) unites utilitarian function and aesthetic beauty. With its characteristically cone-shaped lid, this igiseke features an attractive stepped design, providing a striking contrast between the dark and natural tones. The coiling basketry technique has been used to produce the distinctive form of this miniature igiseke, and dark dye - derived from the black sap obtained from boiling banana flowers - was used by Tutsi basketry makers to create decorative patterns which alternate and contrast against the pale gold colour of the natural fibre.
Prestige igiseke baskets would have been made by highly skilled aristocratic Tutsi women. In Tutsi society, basketry weaving was a communal activity, which occurred during recreational evening gatherings to the sound of the harp. Miniature, intimate-sized baskets were made primarily to be offered as gifts. Subsequently, they would have been used to store precious objects such as the pipe of the master of the house, or displayed in the home as emblems of affluence and social importance.
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