Vintage Baskets of the Borana People

The Borana people belong to the Oromo group in Ethiopia.

They are semi-nomadic herders who transport their belongings on camels and donkeys as they seek pasture for their animals. Borana is pronounced with the final vowel silent. It refers to both the people and their language and also means “friend” or “kind person.”

Borana Tribe Traditional Huts in Olaraba, Ethiopia © Eric Lafforgue

These Cho Cho baskets are crafted from finely woven reed and an indigenous tree bark. It is a highly intricate style of weaving requiring much skill.

There are rings of aluminum and brass threads woven in bands around the entire basket. Woven lids serve as a drinking or serving cup.

Borana Tribe Women in Front of a Traditional Hut in Yabelo, Ethiopia © Eric Lafforgue

Smaller baskets would be kept at home to store milk while larger lidded baskets were used to transport water; the latter smoked to make them watertight. The more decorative baskets are used during special occasions to serve guests or as wall decoration.

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