The panels are made from a bamboo-like reed that grows very tall and abundant in several species, known locally as “mukru” (moo-kroo). Access to plastic bags, basins and buckets has accelerated the decline of basketry skills within households. It’s rare to meet a skilled weaver under 30.
As agribusinesses move into the Rupununi, they look for the wet lowlands where mukru grows to plant rice commercially (which necessitates herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers). The land is washed every rainy season into the rivers – the Rupununi River rises as much as 30 feet and overflows. Keeping the savannas chemical-free (or not) impacts the whole riverine ecosystem: one of the most diverse fish habitats on earth. So monetizing wetlands via basketry does double-duty as a way to protect them from pollution.
The panel designs are based on traditional flat-walled basket forms, such as square baskets, flat baskets and mats. Currently we make 4 patterns, named Sifter (after the cassava sifters on which it is based), Diamondback, Deertrail and Anaconda.