Lesotho is an amazing country for a variety of reasons and one of those reasons is their amazingly beautiful blankets. As Lesotho is located completely above 1000 m in elevation, the weather is cold a good part of the year. Snow is not uncommon. There is even a ski slope up in there. To keep warm, the Basotho people wear blankets to keep warm. This is genius to me and maybe a fashion trend I take back to the USA. All over Lesotho we saw men and women covered in blankets protecting them from the winter weather. I took to taking photos of them. The patterns vary as do the colors, but their purpose is the same. To keep the Basotho people of Lesotho warm. I now present to you my photos of the blankets of Lesotho.
I wasn’t joking about taking this trend back to the USA. One of my very favorite souvenirs from this adventure to Southern Africa was the purchase of my very own Basotho blanket when I was in Clarens in the Free State of South Africa on the border of Lesotho. I knew when I went to Clarens that I wanted to purchase an authentic Basotho blanket from the appropriately named The Blanket Shop.
I chose The Blanket Shop for my purchase because I didn’t know if I would make it into Lesotho to purchase one there and the women who sell the blankets, two sisters who are about 80 years old, have been in the business for ages. They sell authentic Basotho blankets complete with a seal on them stating that the blanket was made in South Africa, is of Royal Quality, and was approved by the monarchy of Lesotho.
As the woman in the shop explained to me the blankets were for years made in England because Lesotho couldn’t manyfacture them anymore and they were needed because of the cold weather in the country. Thus, England stepped in to manufacture them for the people of Lesotho. After quite some time, it was decided that operations should be moved back to Africa so the blanket making business moved to South Africa where all Lesotho blankets are now made.
The patterns are numerous sometimes depicting things important to the Lesotho people, i.e. maize, or important to England, i.e. crowns. The colors are determined at the beginning of the year based on what is available. A few times a year, The Blanket Shop is given a certain number of blankets and when they sell out that’s it until the next shipment comes in.
Ultimately, I chose a classic Lesotho pattern of maize (corn) displayed in a sun that is turquoise and black with red stripes. It is the second highest quality made from pure wool although not as fancy as the lamb’s wool ones. I love my blanket! I love the colors, I love the pattern, I love snuggling up with it at night. It is the perfect souvenir from here. I could not be happier with my purchase.
Now if I could figure out how to fasten the blanket around my body like the women do to keep warm while on the move then I would be all set. There are numerous ways to drape the blankets around the body depending on if you are male or female, single or married, have a kid or haven’t yet. I suppose I am content to drape it over my shoulders to keep me warm on these cold winter nights.
Oh and if you’re in Clarens then hit up The Blanket Shop for your very own Basotho blanket.
499 Naauwpoort St, Clarens, 9707, South Africa
They are open everyday, but Sunday!