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Friday, June 17, 2016

Blanket Wearing Weather

Winter in Lesotho means it is time for wearing blankets. Actually, Basotho wear blankets throughout the year, however, the blanket game is stepped up in the winter.

Women dressed up for our swearing-in ceremony. They are wearing seshoeshoe dresses and formal kobos.
The Kobo is a large blanket typically worn around the shoulders. Kobos play a significant role in Basotho culture. They are given as gifts at important life moments including marriage, Initiation School, and the birth of a woman's first child. Some designs and patterns have historical or cultural meaning as well. For example, the maize blanket represents fertility.

Men tie their kobo on the side, while women pin theirs in the center of the chest like a cape. For women, ensuring the lines of the kobo are even is of vital importance. Most Basotho have at least one nice kobo for dressy occasions and a number of older, well-worn ones that can be worn to stay warm on a daily basis.
The women in my organization staying warm as we work by wearing their charlies.
 The Charlie is a smaller blanket tied or pinned around the waist of a woman. Typically these are worn by married women-who are no longer to sit without sitting on a blanket and are expected to keep their core warm to ensure a healthy reproductive system. Often, however, when winter arrives, girls also wear them as they really help to keep a person warm.
While waiting to be weighed at the outreach clinic, this baby is staying warm despite the winter chill.
Baby Blankets are a year-round part of Basotho tradition-they are used to keep a baby on a woman’s back. In summer months, women will often use thing scarves or towels, but come winter, they utilize the same warm blankets they tie around themselves as a Charlie. Then, once the child is secured, another blanket is often put over the woman’s shoulders, cocooning the baby in warmth and protecting them from the elements. 
Women wearing all manner of blankets for a community meeting. The woman on the left has a baby under the blanket that covers her shoulders. As the sun became warm, many of the women removed their kobos from their shoulders and wrapped
them around their bodies instead.

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