Arts & Cract in Buganda Culture.
The art of making baskets is extensive in Buganda. Many girls are taught by older women how to weave baskets when they are still young. These are done in different shapes, colors, and designs. Elephant grass and palm leaves are used as raw materials to make the baskets. These are sometimes used as traps for wild animals. Today, handbags and wall hangings are made by weaving and used for decorative purposes. The weavers add color to the dried leaves before they weave. The baskets are woven with unique and beautiful patterns that some people use as decorations in their houses. Others are used as beer baskets. Some baskets are woven with scarce and unique grass that they can’t be easily found on the market. Baskets are also woven with wild reeds. Experienced weavers are getting more creative by making clutch bags and handbags that they sell and get rewarded so well since these bags usually are long-lasting.
One of the most common and predominant art pieces in the Buganda Kingdom is the mat.
Many women in Buganda know how to weave mats in various designs. These are mind-blowing and unique since this artistry requires a lot of creativity. This activity requires one to follow mathematical patterns, so it requires skills. These are woven in various patterns and colors that look attractive to the eye. Mats are long-lasting, and almost every homestead in Uganda owns one. They have got different purposes depending on the user. Some people use them for decorations in their living rooms, others wrap the dead bodies in these before they bury them, and primarily they are used for sitting on, instead of using chairs. Mats are made from materials such as plastic straws and leaves.
The art of making spears has been going on in the Buganda kingdom since time immemorial. The Baganda have used spears to fight in battle with their enemies. So the spears were designed in different shapes and sizes. Amongst the symbols of Buganda, there is one with a shield and two spears. That’s how attached the Buganda are to spears as they are used to protect the royals in Buganda.
GRASS THATCHED HOUSES (akasisila/Obusisila)
These houses are typically built in rural areas. They are built using mud or clay, depending on the availability of resources. Reeds and types of timber are also used depending on how available and accessible the wood is. They are thatched. Many come in round shapes, but modern ones are rectangular and square. Bricks are made from mud and clay. These houses made from bricks tend to be more long-lasting than those made from mud and reeds. In terms of roofing, many have moved away from the grass thatched roofs to iron sheets.
BARK CLOTH (OLUBUGO)
Before the introduction of modern-day clothing in Uganda, the Buganda made their own clothing through their creativity. They made bark cloth from the omutuba tree-fig tree (ficus natealensis). This cloth is made from vegetable fiber. These come in diverse natural colors ranging from light brown to dark brown. The bark cloth is one of the Baganda’s finest pieces of art. The bark cloth is special in the Kiganda culture. In some situations, people are obliged to wear them to certain cultural functions.
The art of creating items from iron has been ongoing in Buganda. The blacksmiths in Buganda are called ‘baweesi.’ They made spears, arrows, hoes, knives, ornaments, needles for sewing and basketry, and some cooking utensils. Nowadays, modern industries have been developed to produce these things using modern industrial techniques, but the local blacksmiths still sell their products on the local market.
The Baganda people make different kinds of pottery, with most of it being pots and earthenware saucers made of clay and dark soil. The skilled potters use clay, usually mixed with water, and roll it in their hands to carve products out. The Baganda use clay to make smoking pipes pots for carrying water and cooking purposes. At times, women make pots while men act as middlemen and salespeople. Many rural families still use pots to store their drinking water in a cool state. In the past, multi-headed pots were made and were used to give poisoned beer to people who angered the Kabaka.
In Buganda, making gourds has been going on for quite some time; some are used as the traditional containers for beer, milk, and other milk by-products. The gourds are multifunctional, and they make perfect beer-drinking bowls too. Long-necked gourds are used to collect drinking water, and others are used to keep salt. Many artists in Buganda decorate the gourds by writing on them gourds, and some put tiny colored beads before selling the gourds. Huge gourds are used to carry banana wine at funerals and introduction wedding ceremonies. Such gourds have to be draped with yellow banana leaves.
Sculptures say a lot about the Buganda kingdom. They have been used to communicate about the Kiganda culture and mark Buganda territory. One of the most predominant sculptures in Buganda is the ‘kabaka anjagala’ sculpture and the totem sculptures constructed along the road to Bulange Mengo. These sculptures make such a beautiful sight in their proper alignment all the way to the Kabaka’s palace. Some sculptures can be found in the Uganda Museum. One of these is the Natawetwa monument.
The other prominent monument is the kabaka’s sculpture (kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi)
There are many other sculptures in Buganda, but some of them are not directly connected to the kingdom but the political landmarks of the country.
The Baganda people make jewelry for decoration. These are made from beads of different colors and sizes. The nature of the beads determines how much the piece is valued. Many art exhibitions are being organized these days where various artists go and display their work for people to see and buy. Some people have jewelry from animal bones, teeth, feathers, seeds, wood clay, and precious metals. One will find necklaces, waist beads, bangles, finger rings, amulets, and so on. Jewelry making is a serious business in the Buganda kingdom that many earn a living from.
There is a lot of wood-crafting being done in Buganda. Wood crafting is no longer done as a hobby, but rather it is learned as a skill many do to earn a living. Many males in the Buganda kingdom are taught how to make chairs, sofa sets, dining tables, stools, gourds, carvings, and many wooden carvings in the forms of African women carrying babies, animals, women carrying pots, and so on. Along the streets of Kampala, one will find many of these carpentry works displayed on the streets for people to buy. Carpenters in Buganda make all sorts of home decorations that are pleasing to the eye.
The Baganda people are very creative, for there is a lot of crafting done in the Buganda kingdom to the extent that some people generate their income from art. There are paintings and drawings, namely the pictures of the former kings of Buganda. Most of them were hand-drawn. Several hides are used to make things like shoes, drums, home decorations, jewelry, etc.