Arts & Crafts
Swaziland has a remarkably impressive range of traditional arts and crafts with many of its products now found in trendy ethnic boutiques around world. Throughout the country men and women are at work creating the finest handicrafts that are so popular with visitors. Creative basket ware in vibrant clours, wood and stone carvings, glassware, exquisite candles, batik items, jewellery – all uniquely Swazi. In many places that they are on sale, there is also chance to see the craftspeople at work and marvel at their intricate skills. Many are socially responsible outlets which provide both income and empowerment for their craftspeople from poor rural communities.
Batiks: Baobab Batik started in 1991 and has outlets at Malandela’s and Swazi Candles Centre. Clothing, cushion covers, table linen and the like are produced and the artists can be watched in action at the workshop near Mlilwane Game Sanctuary.
Carvings & Sculpture: Swaziland has a fine tradition of carving, both in wood and stone. Various wooden items can be found in craft markets around the country – mostly functional pieces. Stone carvers work largely with soapstone, turning their skilled hands to everything from palm-sized ashtrays to larger-than-life human sculptures
Glass Blowing: At the Ngwenya Glass factory glass blowers can be seen creating everything from tableware to animal figurines, all from 100% recycled glass. This award-winning enterprise now exports all over the world.
Grass Weaving: Most markets and craft stalls display beautifully patterned baskets woven from grass or sisal, and coloured with natural dyes. Tintsaba, near Piggs Peak and Gone Rural at Malandelas are two inmpressive enterprises which produce and export a wide range of products and employ hundreds of local women, making a major contribution to their surrounding communities.
Jewellery: Traditional Swazi jewellery is beadwork, used in bracelets, anklets, necklaces and other accessories, with messages conveyed in the patterns and motifs. Today it ranges from ethnic pieces incorporating such natural products as seedpods and feathers, to fine items in gold and silver. You will find many Jewellery outlets in Markets in towns such as Manzini and Mbabane as well some small outlets in the Mantenga area. Quazi Design, based in Mbabane with a shop at Ngwenya Glass, transform discarded waste magazines into original accessories.
Candles: Exquisitly crafted candles come from the Swazi Candle Factory, near Malkerns where the workers do their stuff with coloured wax. This is now one of Swaziland’s main tourist attractions, and is at the centre of a complex of handicraft outfits.
Mohair Weaving: Coral Stephens established a workshop in the Piggs Peak area over 60 years ago, teaching traditional skills to local women, and producing a range of fine, hand-woven fabrics that sell worldwide. Rosecraft, south of Matsapha now creates a similar range of products using traditional techniques. Both enterprises employ many local women.
Arts & Crafts Outlets
Handicraft stalls are everywhere in Swaziland. Roadside stalls and the markets of Manzini or Mbabane offer the best bargains, but more tourist-friendly shopping is offered at the following centres:
African Queen: Boutique at the Lugogo Sun Hotel
Ezulwini Craft Market: a large collection of craft and curio stalls in the Ezulwini valley
Imvelo Eswatini: hand crafted products of ceramic disc/beaded necklaces, pendants, earrings, bracelets, mirrors, lutindzi grass African bags, post cards, and grass travel journals. Visitors are welcome to their factory which situated in the Industrial Area of Manzini City, at Likusasa Life Skills Centre. Read More
Indingilizi Gallery: in Mbabane
Lonhlupeko Craft Market: Community tourism project in the lowveld, including carvings, batik and beadwork, embroidery, candles, basketware, glassware and jewellery.
Malandela’s: a complex of craft outlets including Gone Rural, Baobab Batik and Zogg’s boutique. Read more.
Mantenga Craft Centre: A diverse collection of art and craft outlets, including rugs, curios, baskets, mohair and jewellery.
Ngwenya Glass Complex: cluster of handicraft stalls and shops centred around Ngwenya Glass workshop and showroom including a retail outlet for Imvelo Estwatini, Quazi Design and others. Read More
Peak Craft Centre: at Piggs Peak, includes Coral Stephens handweaving (mohair), Tintsaba (sisal), Likhweti (jewellery) and other smaller outlets.
Swazi Candles Centre: at Malkerns and includes the Swazi Candles Factory, plus numerous other craft outlets, such as Baobab Batik, Yebo and Rosecraft. Read more
Yebo Contemporary Art Gallery & Shop: Situated in the art gallery is a special shop that stocks an exciting exclusive range of products designed and made by local artists. There is a very popular range of textiles all designed & screen-printed at their own workshop and sold by the metre. Plus a range of original art reproduction cards, T-shirts and silver jewellery. Read more.
Pure Swazi: For those of you who forgot to buy a souvenir or you can't make it to Swaziland, you can visit the Pure Swazi website here. It features a lot of top quality products from some of the best Swaziland producers around. These Include: Baobab Batik, Black Mamba, Gone Rural, Ngwenya Glass, Quazi Design, Swazi Candles and Tintsaba.