The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

House Decorations of the Basotho Women

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The Basotho women’s art of house decoration:  Litema

“The word Litema (pronounced as “di-the-ma”) is derived from the word “ho lema” which means to cultivate, and “tema”, which denotes a ploughed field. The geometric patterns appeared initially on the inside of dwellings and it was only in the 19th century that it appeared on the outside of homes. In contemporary times the practice of Litema appears to be a seasonal phenomenon associated with special events such as celebrations and religious ceremonies. It not only announces births, deaths, weddings or the arrival of Christmas and Easter, but also serves as a reminder of the passage of time.
It is a tradition where women decorate a house after the men have finished building the house. These highly decorative designs are soft and flowing geometric patterns that are applied with fingers, forks and sticks on the walls of houses.The patterns are sometimes coloured with natural pigments or commercial paint and stains. Stones, embedded in mud and relief designs are sometimes used as a more permanent effect.

More photos here.

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Author: Daniela

I was born in Croatia, at that time Yugoslavia. My family moved to the US when I was very young, but I still treasure the memories of my grandfather teaching me how to protect myself against the "evil eye," my grandmother shopping early every morning, at the open air market, to buy the freshest vegetables for the day's meals, and the traditions that were the underpinnings of our society. Someone once noted that "For all of us that want to move forward, there are a very few that want to keep the old methods of production, traditions and crafts alive." I am a fellow traveler with those who value the old traditions and folk wisdom. I believe the knowledge they possess can contribute significantly to our efforts to build a more sustainable world; one that values the individual over the corporation, conservation over growth and happiness over wealth.

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