The world-renowned Basotho tribal blankets have a deep cultural significance and history. They are unique in terms of the layout of the design, the various symbols used, the bold colour combinations and the characteristic pin-stripe. This stripe was originally a weaving fault which has become a unique part of the design and dictates how the blanket is worn. When worn in the traditional manner, the pin-stripe runs vertically symbolising growth.
Aranda is the proud, sole manufacturer of the Basotho heritage blankets, and has the blessing of the Lesotho Royal Family and Basotho nation.
The long and very rich history of the blanket began in early 1860 when the King of Lesotho, King Moshoeshoe I received a blanket as a gift from a French missionary and used it as a wrap. This gift signified the birth of the blanket wearing tradition in Lesotho, the blanket wrap soon replaced the karosses (animal hides) as the Lesotho Kingdom’s primary attire.
Over time, the blanket became rooted in the Basotho culture not only as a shelter against the cold but as a bold and beautiful expression of Basotho virtues, status, and unity.
The Basotho blanket has expanded into a colourful array of diverse and distinct names and designs. Every style symbolises and celebrates Lesotho nationality, rites of passage, peace, love, royalty, bravery, and courage, and, above all, warmth.
Basotho blankets are used extensively in celebrations of all types, from small get-togethers among friends to the coronation of a king. Every good wish, be it for health, peace, or in the preparation for rites of passage, Basotho blankets are bestowed and celebrated.
The corncob is the most widely used motif throughout the range of the Basotho heritage blankets. In Basotho culture, maize is the staple food and therefore the corncob is a symbol of fertility and wealth.
Traditionally, Basotho blankets are manufactured from wool, which offers protection from the wind and rain and provides warmth in the high altitude of The Mountain Kingdom.
ReNOKA has chosen this proud and iconic Basotho heritage item to help tell the story and purpose of ReNOKA within Lesotho.
The ReNOKA Basotho blanket has been designed and developed in full collaboration with Aranda. Through the use of carefully developed symbols, the blanket tells the story of the Orange-Senqu River Basin and what ReNOKA hopes to achieve.
The ever-twisting, snake-like Orange-Senqu River depicts the protection of this vital water source, while the corncob represents the increased food security that is possible if we work together as a community to restore soil and water within the basin. The mountain, Mokorotlo and stirrup characterise Lesotho, the Mountain Kingdom, rich in tradition, and the potential to grow its GDP through sustainable tourism in the future.
Each blanket will, of course, intertwine with the life story of the wearer and their relationship to the Orange-Senqu River Basin and the environment.
Find out more about Aranda here.