[Image credit: Sadza Batik Afrobag -Tashanda]
The Zimbabwe Sadza Batik is a modern classic, staking its claim as a future ‘traditional’ fabric and is one that takes pride of place across homes around the country and beyond in the form of wall hangings, bedspreads and tablecloths; I have mine that my mum brought back for me from Zimbabwe, I’m just trying to find the right size frame for it to hang on the wall, a task that has proved harder than I thought. The Sadza batik process works in much in the same way as the traditional wax method, substituting the wax for Sadza; a thick porridge made from pounded maize that is a staple of the traditional Zimbabwean diet.
Applied to the fabric as a paste, the Sadza is left to hardened forming a resistance that allows the dye to adhere to the areas where there is no Sadza. Once dry the Sadza is picked off and the colour set by heating in a dryer. Giving the batiks their distinctive look the colours used are often rich and earthy; think burnt umber, deep blues, emerald greens, rusty reds and golden amber; bringing to life depictions of a contemporary Zimbabwean landscape that takes inspiration from the local wildlife including the ever-popular guinea fowl, flora and fauna, traditional patterns such as the chevron and common traditional household objects like gourds and pots. Sadza batiks have become a contemporary way of telling and preserving stories and have captivated the imagination of crafters and art enthusiasts worldwide, lending itself to many applications. So moving away from interiors and appearing in another guise I am loving these bags from Tashanda, that show of the batiks in all their glory. Not only do they serve to showcase Zimbabwean artistry, they are also a way of helping local artisan producers to reach a wider audience.
[Image credits: Afrobags – Tashanda]
Named the ‘Afrobag‘, the bags created by artisans in Zimbabwe are the brainchild of Tashanda, a social enterprise based in the US that is actively seeking to showcase Zimbabwean arts and crafts to a global audience. Tashanda was started in 2006 by Nyasha Manyonda, a Zimbabwean now living in the US who was looking for a positive way of giving back and aims to help skilled artisans generate a source of income by commissioning products that can be sold through the online store. Loosely translated from the Shona language of Zimbabwe ‘Tashanda’ means ‘ we have worked hard’ and is kind of used for emphasis, but Tashanda, in this case, is taken from ‘Tashanda pamwechete’ which means ‘we have worked together’ and underlines the need to join together to make a difference in tackling issues like poverty. The Tashanda philosophy is to work with various artisanal groups seeking ways of setting up low capital projects that can help the artisans to develop their skills and allow for a space to experiment with creating products that have greater appeal to a retail market without compromising on quality, craftsmanship or tradition.
[Image credit: Afrobag – Tashanda]
The Afrobag is Tashanda’s flagship product, and is the result of a partnership between Tashanda and two local micro-entrepreneurs; brothers Max and Maki Menyere. The brothers had worked in a handbag factory but faced a loss of income when the factory closed down. Given two sewing machines by their former employer the brothers began making handbags, and upon meeting with Nyasha whilst was on holiday in Zimbabwe produced 30 for Tashanda and the future hope is to increase production, read more on the brothers and the creation of the Afrobag here. The Afrobag is made using 100% Zimbabwean cotton which has undergone the Sadza batik treatment and then finished off with recycled leather trimmings; the unique nature of the batik designs means only one of each design is available. With their beautiful bold patterns and colours, they make great weekend bags.
…vibrant captivating expressions of a country within unique and stylish accessories
Prices for the Afrobag ranges from: USD$39-USD$45
For further information about Tashanda and their partner artisans visit: www.tashanda.com
For a behind the scenes look and profiles on the artisans visit the blog: http://tashanda-africa.blogspot.com