Ibhuma reeds (Typha Capensis), otherwise locally known as ‘bulrush’ are the largest component of our rush mats.
Ibhuma is native to Zimbabwe, prolific, and are often found in dams and waterways where they grow in the shallow water. The Ibhuma is cut directly from its source by our women and transported by us back to their communal lands during the dry season and stockpiled during the dry season when access to these areas is relatively easy. Once here it is then dried until it has lost its green colour. This process takes two to three weeks.
The reeds are then plaited and rolled into large balls ready for mat weaving. The women use their toes to secure each length, and the long process begins of twisting and plaiting the rushes into the desired lengths. Whilst the elders are peacefully performing this ritual, usually on the ‘stoep’ of their village kraal, the younger members of the group are sent into the bush to harvest the sisal used to bind the mats. Another stage in the manufacturing process is the stripping of the sisal plant. Once the fleshy outer layer of the leaf is stripped from the plant, a natural string is exposed, white in colour, resembling the mane of a horse. This is coiled into reams and set aside for the dying and twisting process to begin. The elders instruct their the young in this long and intricate process.
They twist and roll the raw sisal on their bare legs until it meshes together to form a long thread. Huge metal darning needles are used to thread the thick sisal twine and this is used to pierce through the reed strips and bind the mat into the desired dimensions. All mats are made to specified dimensions. Most of the women are illiterate and although tape measures are distributed regularly these are often disregarded in favour of lengths of string or lines in the sand!
We offer a bespoke service, and custom makes mats for our clients in the hospitality industry and can make to any size required. Please, however, note, that due to the handmade nature of our mats, there can be a 3-5cm variance in size, making them ‘perfectly imperfect’ and is part of the appeal to our clients.
The only imported content used in the production process of our rush matting is 100% natural jute and a selection of cotton ribbing in a variety of colours which we import from India. This provides us with a neat binding solution, and can be tied into your interior scheme. No synthetic materials are used in the production of our products.