When it comes to authenticity, we’re talking about African Tonga baskets that are painstakingly handmade by the Tonga women in Zambia. The kind that’s not mass produced in a factory somewhere for export. Each one is weaved using age-old traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation.
Discerning buyers put value on that. They prefer authentic Tonga baskets to show their appreciation for the workmanship that these local artists do. Add to that fact is the cultural integrity of owning an authentic piece in one’s home.
So if you have you been fiddling with the idea of buying an authentic Tonga basket lately, but don’t exactly know what factors to look for, these will help.
Check the craftsmanship of the Tonga basket
Authentic Tonga baskets are perfectly imperfect. While it’s true that Tonga women put in a good amount of effort to make each basket symmetrical and sturdy enough to support its utilitarian function, there will still be minor imperfections.
You really won’t see these imperfections until you take a closer look. There’s one or two things that maybe slightly off. It could be that the basket is not perfectly round or there’s a misaligned weft somewhere. Some really like these little imperfections because it gives the product character; it what makes them truly unique.
In fact, other cultures go to greater lengths to add imperfections to their products. Navajos, for one, deliberately put a line towards the edge of a woven rug. This line is called ch'ihónít'I (spirit line). They believe that the weaver becomes entwined with the rug during the process, so the line will be the pathway for the spirit to exit the rug safely.
Check the seller’s reputation
One way of knowing if a Tonga basket is the real deal or not is by checking the seller’s reputation. With some diligent research, you’ll be able to dig out if there are any complaints or bad reviews about the company and the product itself.
Paulskiart is a proud sister company of Outsourcesol—one of the top suppliers of high-grade zebra hides in the country. Outsourcesol is also a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-licensed importer.
We pride ourselves on selling Tonga baskets, Kuba pillow covers, and Juju hats that have been directly sourced from the hardworking artisans in Africa. Our zebra ottomans are manufactured in Utah, but the hides we use are ethically-sourced from Africa as well.
Ask the seller
You can ask anything about the product: from as simple as which wall hook to use that will not cause damage to a Tonga basket to which part of Zambia the basket is made.
Don’t hesitate to contact the seller if you need details on the product that you can’t find on the seller’s website. The seller can fill in the important information that will help you make a better decision. Plus, you’ll get a feeling for the seller’s level of trustworthiness if you simply talk to him or her.
Got questions about our Tonga baskets? Contact us! We’re ready to help!