05 October 2004

The Art of Litema

As is now the custom, I'd like to begin by reminding you that in Sesotho of Lesotho -LI- is pronounced /di/, so that Litema is /di-teh-MAH/. Here's an article from the SABC, South African Broadcasting Corporation:

"The art of Litema comes to life again

September 12, 2004, 13:33
Heritage month started off with a very special event in the Free State this weekend, the re-awakening of Litema, an indigenous art, in Bloemfontein.

Litema is an indigenous art form unique to Basotho houses in the eastern Free State and Lesotho. It is the tradition where women paint a house after it has been built by men. The highly decorative designs are soft and flowing geometric patterns originally coloured with natural pigments, but now done in commercial paint. The art form is more than 300 years old, but it is slowly dying out.

In contemparary times Litema appeared to be a seasonal phenomenon associated with special events such as celebrations and religious ceremonies. It announced births and deaths, weddings or the arrival of Christmas and Easter, and it served as the reminder of the passage of time.

With a grant of R500 000 from the South African national lottery fund to the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein a handbook on Litema - in English and SeSotho - and documentary archive will be compiled. Commercial artefacts and souvenirs will also be manufactured. However, more importantly, these designs will ultimately appear on a telephone card and on wall tiles - leading to the creation of jobs."
[ Source... ]

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