This is a Chocho basket from the Borana people of Ethiopia, with which they store milk. Chocho baskets are made from twine and treated with resin or fat to make them waterproof. Afterwards they are decorated with metal wire and cowrie shells. Read the story..
The Borana people belong to the Oromo group in Ethiopia. The word spelled Borana is pronounced with the final vowel silent. It refers to the people or their language and also means "friend" or "kind person".They are semi-nomadic herders. A Borana hut is made from wood and skins. During a move the hut is dismantled and everything is loaded on camels and donkeys. When the family arrives at its destination, all the women immediately start the construction of the huts. It is also the duty of women to draw water, collect firewood, fumigate or sterilize containers for keeping milk fresh, milk the animals, feed the children to sleep.
These milk containers, made from plant fibers and metal wire, are used to store and serve milk to guests at special occasions, such as weddings. After use, the container is sterilized by cleansing with charcoal. This operation is called qoraasuu and gives the milk a wonderful fragrance. The inner surface becomes black, dense, smooth and aromatic.
It is an intricate style of weaving and requires much skill. There are rings of aluminium and brass threads woven in bands around the entire basket. The woven lid serves as a drinking or serving cup.
Every basket is unique and in good overall condition (signs of use, small imperfections).