A craft of great importance to Madagascar is braiding of a reed-like sedge (Lepironia articulata) into mats for use in and outside the houses, baskets, hats, etc. The species is common in Madagascar, as in many other countries in and around the Indian Ocean. It is considered to be a material of very good quality for crafts; strong, flexible, easy to work with. The artisans on Madagascar call it "Penjy", which means "grabbing with the whole hand while pressing hard". More about the plant, its propagation and usability on the website PlantUse. Another sedges with similar quality and importance in the craft is Scirpus corymbosus. This also grows in and near water and is described as common on Madagascar, the rest of southern Africa and India. A robust sedge that can grow up to 1, 5 meters and which after harvest grows back from its large root system. The artisans on the highlands of Madagascar call it "Ravindahasa", which is a combination of the words "ravina" = leaves and "lahasa" = work (mainly in the field). The sun-dried and plaited sedges are found inside many bags and baskets in La Maison Afrique FAIR TRADE range. The bag or basket thus consists of two layers; inside of plaited sedges outside of eg woven sisal. The inside gives shape at the same time as practical and comfortable flexibility to the bag or basket (eg when you carry it or need to pack it into a limited space.) In addition, the inside of plaited sedges gives durability to bags and baskets. The beautiful, useful natural fibre is also used as the only material for hats and bags.
Photos below show how sedges grows near water on Madagascar, is sun-dried and plaited to hats, bags and baskets.
"Erana" denotes sedges within the cyperus genus; Cyperus dives, Cyperus latifolius var. herana, Cyperus latifolius var. Solidifolius. Described as common between the rice fields on Madagascar, where it is used for basketry. Erana is harvested manually, left to dry in the sun, shared and moisturized before plaiting. For Mme Perline it is a craft she learned from her mother. The pictures below, she shows the steps in the crafting from plant to finished craft product. You find the products in La Maison Afrique FAIR TRADE assortment under the heading gift packaging
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