- Museum number
'Seana Marena' Jacquard woven blanket in the 'poone' ('mealie'/maize) design, in blue, slate and black, with four vertical 'pin stripes' in yellow
- Production date
- 2012 (circa)
Length: 155 centimetres
Width: 165 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- See : Spring, Chris, 'African Textiles Today', London, BMP, 2012, pp 228-229
The ‘Seana Marena’ (meaning 'king’s blanket') range of blanket with 'poone' (‘mealie’ or maize) design, signifying fecundity and prosperity, is reportedly most desirable in the present colour-way, i.e. blue, slate and black with yellow 'pin stripes'. The ‘Seana Marena’ was once the preserve of chiefs. Although still a prestige item and often associated with special occasions such as weddings, as alluded to in a well-known South Sotho folk song imploring in its refrain ‘father please buy me a Seana Marena’, this blanket is now more widely worn.
The history of the Basotho wearing blanket is thought to date back to the 1860s when a blanket of European manufacture was presented to King Moshoeshoe I (c.1786 –1870), founder of the Basotho Kingdom of Lesotho. Since its adoption, in favour of the skin ‘kaross’, the blanket has proved popular and well-suited to the often cold climatic conditions of mountainous Lesotho, which owing to its distinctive landscape is sometimes referred to as the Mountain Kingdom or the Kingdom in the Sky.
The Basotho blanket is presently (2012) produced in a number of ranges, including the 'Seana Marena' (king’s blanket), 'Victoria'/ 'Victoria England', 'Malakabe' (flame), 'Morena', 'Sefate' (tree), 'Motlatsi' (advisor) and the 'Kharetsa' (Sprial Aloe). Each range (or ‘label’) is available in numerous colour-ways and has a number of designs, which are almost invariably quadrilaterally symmetrical. For example there are two ‘Seana Marena’ motifs: the ‘Poone’ (‘mealie’/maize) design and the Chromatic, also known as Cards and ‘Skop’ (kick). The trademark four ‘pin-stripes’ synonymous with the Basotho blanket, and typically worn with the strips running on the vertical, apparently originate in an early manufacturing flaw that over time has become de rigueur. Once wrapped around the body, the blanket is secured at the wearer’s shoulders and affords comfort in extreme temperatures, as well as protection from the elements and open fires. From birth to death, the blanket plays a central role in South Sotho culture.
This blanket is part of a small collection acquired in South Africa in early 2012. Two blankets were bought from Cassim Stores, Marabastad, Pretoria and four were purchased directly from the manufacturer of Basotho blankets, Aranda Textile Mills (Pty) Ltd, whose main factory and showroom is located in Randfontein, west of Johannesburg.
- On display (G25/dc10)
- Exhibition history
2013 14 Feb-21 April, London, BM, Social Fabric: African textiles today--textiles of southern and eastern Africa
2015 13 Feb - 17 May Birchington-on-sea, Powell Cotton Museum, Social Fabric: African Textiles Today
2015 23 May - 6 Sept, Exeter, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Social Fabric: African Textiles Today
2015-2016 18 Sept - 2106 24 Jan, Ipswich Museum, Social Fabric: African Textiles Today
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Purchased from Cassim Stores, Marabastad, Pretoria on 27 March 2012. Cassim Stores was established circa 1940 in Marabastad by the current owners’ father, Mr Carrim Cassim (b. 1926 Rajasthan, d. 1979 Mecca).
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number