"Don't miss the brilliant Vukani Zulu Craft Museum" Eshowe Things to Do Tip by CatherineReichardt
Eshowe Things to Do: 3 reviews and 6 photos
(work in progress)
Of all the craft museums I've ever visited - and, to paraphrase Frank Sinatra, there've been a few - the Vukani Craft Museum is the place where I have learned most.
I have a passion for basketwork, and on my first visit, the museum was closed, and I could only press my nose to the window and peer in longingly. I was so desperate to visit the museum that I sneakily rescheduled my German clients' programme - we had a weekend break between auditing industrial minerals facilities, which was about as exciting as it sounds - and it was well worth the subterfuge and juggling of itineraries!
Zulu basketwork has the dual virtues of being both beautiful and functional. Even the uninitiated can marvel at the exquisite quality of the workmanship, but it's only when you have the symbolism and function of the designs explained to you that you can fully appreciate that this craft embodies the overlap between art and functionality.
The lady who runs the museum - and I very much hope that she is still there - is absolutely bonkers about basketwork, and has worked closely with local artists over decades to develop an understanding of, and market for, their amazing produce. To hear her wax lyrical about the items on display is intoxicating, as you start to see the baskets through her eyes and appreciate the detail and imagery that you would probably have missed if left to your own devices.
Some of the baskets on display are for sale: don't be surprised if they seem pricey, because they are made by women who are acknowledged to be virtuosos in their own field, and are therefore works of art rather than the sort of curios that you can pick up by the roadside (although these too can be lovely). If you have the budget and do decide to buy - lucky you! - bear in mind that baskets need to be kept under specific climatic (and vermin free) conditions to ensure their preservation, and as they are made of natural materials, you need to ensure that they meet the customs requirements of your home country (Australian customs officials, for example, would have a pink fit at the mere prospect!)
Address: Fort Nongqayi
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