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Madwa: Restoring the Handwoven Crafts of Swaziland

Madwa floor mats are beautifully hand-woven creations originating in Swaziland. Made locally, these intricate mats are made using the indigenous grass or rush reeds that grow wild on the surrounding hillsides. The colourful and intricate patterns make for beautiful interior décor items. The rich textures and designs are ensuring that the legacy of the Swazi people lives on in homes far and wide.  

Madwa became involved with the local weavers in the HhoHho Valley of Swaziland in 2012. At the time, Kalina, a 70-year-old grandmother, was one of the last women in the Valley accustomed to the art and she knew how to crochet and plait mats from woven strands of grass. The younger women had grown disenchanted with the idea of spending so much time of traditional crafts, believing there was no market and no regular income from it. Through working with Madwa, their traditional skills have found a new market and their creative expression, a new voice. For those who purchase an authentic Madwa floor mat, you are investing in the local female entrepreneurs of the HhoHho Valley, supporting their small businesses whilst helping to break the cycle of poverty in the area. This helps to further protect a unique craft heritage. The grass known as Lutindzi, grows wild on the surrounding hillsides of HhoHho. It is here that careful harvesting takes places twice per year, allowing the grass to regenerate through the seasons. No time or money is spent in bringing in raw materials. The harvesting and storing of this grass further creates employment opportunities, as members from the weavers’ own communities are paid to cut and carefully store it. To make the mats, the grass or rush is first plaited. The weavers thread it through their toes before plaiting. The plaits are then sewn together or crocheted to create floor mats. Crocheting requires large hooks hand carved from Jacaranda wood. The mats can be custom made in any size, from a small 35cm table mat to a big 3m x 4m floor mat. The HhoHho weavers are happy to work on customised orders and the crocheted grass mat varieties can even be made in rectangular shapes.

For more visit www.madwa.com or follow them on social media for updates.

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