Traditional Basotho Dress

Jun 5, 2018

Basotho Blankets

The origin of the Basotho blanket goes back over a century. In 1860, King Moshoeshoe I, the founder of  of Lesotho, was given a wool blanket as a gift. The King loved the blanket so much, he abandoned his traditional leopard-skin kaross in favour of the blanket.

The Basotho people soon followed suit and to this day the blanket is an inherent part of their lives and culture. You will see blankets of varying colours and patterns at all important life events, from marriage to childbirth to the coronation of kings.

Women wearing Basotho Blankets

Versions of the Basotho tribal blanket, or ‘Seanamarena’ in Sesotho, are also worn in every day life by herd boys, grannies and even children to keep warm. Lesotho is the only nation south of the Sahara that identifies the culture of an entire country through a nationalistic article of clothing like the Basotho blanket.

    Many people in Lesotho live in farming and animal husbandry based communities and therefore wear clothing that is suitable for this lifestyle. For example, herd boys wear large rain boots, referred to as gum boots, to wade through the muddy mountain terrain with their animals. 

    Herd boy in Lesotho wearing gum boots

    Most herd boys also wear woolen caps or balaclavas year-round to protect their faces from cold temperatures and dust blown around by the strong mountain winds.

    Herd boys in Lesotho wearing blankets and woolen caps

    Women usually wear long dresses and skirts in vibrant colors and patterns with blankets around their waists, and for special occasions (like church or weddings) they wear a traditional Basotho dress called the seshoeshoe. Seshoeshoe are worn in endless varieties of designs, patterns and colours. Wearers purchase seshoeshoe fabric and then work with a seamstress to create their preferred design.

    Woman wearing traditional Basotho dress called the seshoeshoe

    Young men and women usually wear more casual clothes like jeans and t-shirts.

    Young men and women in Lesotho wearing jeans and t-shirts

    Basotho Hat called a Mokorotlo is another traditional item of clothing worn in Lesotho

    Basotho Hat (or Mokorotlo)

    The Basotho hat is another traditional item of clothing worn to this day. The conical woven hat with a top knot is made of local mosa grass and can be seen and purchased all across the nation. The mokorotlo is also the national symbol and can be found on the Mountain Kingdom’s flag.

      Mount Qiloane (below) is said to be the inspiration for the mokorotlo.

      Mount Qiloane is the inspiration for the mokorotlo.

      School Uniforms

      In Lesotho, school uniforms are mandatory. You’ll see school-age children running around in uniforms (colours and styles vary by school), until they change into their street clothes after school.

      School children in Lesotho wearing mandatory school uniforms