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item of the day: agaseke baskets

Agaseke, or Tutsi peace baskets, have a long and layered history. The grass baskets have been used in Rwandan households and cultural ceremonies for generations. At home, people use them to serve food or store items such as jewellery, and culturally they’ve long been coveted as wedding gifts. In fact, women often weave details about the married couple into each personalised gift basket. While they’ve always been an integral part of Rwandan culture, it’s only in the last few years that the baskets have been thrown into the international spotlight. After the 1994 genocide, Rwandan women decided to use the iconic basket as a symbol of peace. The woven zigzag pattern now represents two women holding hands, leaving their differences behind them. The symbolism has become so powerful that the new Rwandan coat of arms even features one of these beautiful handcrafted baskets, which symbolise the weaving together of a formerly divided nation into a new and unified Rwanda. Besides promoting a good cause, the baskets are also strikingly beautiful. With their strong craftsmanship and clean design they make for a beautiful centrepiece or unique and meaningful gift. Gahaya Links agaseke baskets are available at the African Contemporary Emporium @ Arts on Main in Joburg 011-726-8865,