Kambaa; plaited cord made with palm leaves

Kambaa hank close-up

Kambaa is made in Masasi District from thin strips of the leaves which grow on the dwarf palm. This plant normally grows no more than a metre high and survives in  miombo woodland where it is less dense. Kambaa is plaited by women during the dry season when there’s not much work on the land and  when it’s made for sale each hank is about 125 metres in length. The width is always very constant throughout the length but different hanks vary between about 8mm and 12 mm in width.

Dwarf Palm, hyphaene species

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Tanzania kambaa is used for making beds. It can be woven diagonally or parallel with the sides and ends of a wooden bed-frame. The Tanzania village life museum in Dar es Salaam has several examples in houses of different regions.

a traditional bed with kambaa

 

In Britain a new use for kambaa has been gaining acceptance steadily. It was first imported here in the year 2001 and shown to people who make chairs. It was immediately recognized as a useful and attractive material for making chair seats in place of rushes, sea grass or hemp string.  A big advantage is the width of kambaa, so that a chair seat can be made with a shorter length of cord than with the usual narrow materials. Enquiries for sample or purchase to Graham Cole, tel 0114 255 7861.

Chair seats made in England

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4 comments

  1. jennifer oakley · February 29, 2012

    aha! I am glad to have seen this; one day I will get some back here! It is beautiful!

  2. Robin Fawcett · September 7, 2012

    Hope you’re well if you read this Graham. I’m always talking up kambaa but not, alas, making many seats.

  3. grahamcole · February 23, 2013

    Update, February 2013; I have stock available again in the usual 120m (approx) length hanks, still for sale at £35 each.

  4. grahamcole · January 12, 2016

    Reblogged this on Masasi and commented:

    Kambaa is gaining popularity among British chair makers. If there are people wanting it in Germany it can be made available there too.

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