A Basotho Blanket (Lockdown Day 83)

by | Jun 17, 2020 | COVID-19, Johannesburg, West Rand | 33 comments

It’s Day 83 of the South African lockdown. In celebration of this entirely unremarkable and insanely high number, I bought myself a Basotho blanket.

Trixie on Heather's Basotho blanket
Trixie tests out my new Basotho blanket.

I am not a therapy shopper; I generally don’t self-soothe through buying stuff. I also don’t have much spare cash at the moment. But for the past several weeks, as the lockdown drags on and the temperatures dip ever lower, my instincts have been driving me to buy a Basotho blanket.

Those inner voices reached a crescendo yesterday — the coldest day in Joburg since August 2012 — when I woke up feeling like I simply must get into my car and drive the 45 minutes to Aranda Textiles in Randfontein. But alas, yesterday was a public holiday and the blanket factory was closed. So today was the day.

I have blogged about Basotho blankets more than once (see here and here), and my post about a previous visit to Aranda Textiles — where all Basotho blankets are manufactured — is one of my most popular of all time. (Thanks to Black Panther, Basotho blankets became world-famous in 2017. People who google the blankets, which are nearly impossible to find outside Southern Africa, often find 2Summers.)

Heather wearing her Basotho blanket
Wearing my first Basotho blanket, bought in December 2013 at the Blanket Shop in Clarens. Sadly this wonderful shop has since closed.

I love these blankets. I love their colors. I love their designs. I love their cultural significance and the centuries of stories that surround them. And yet I only had one Basotho blanket of my own. I’d been craving a second for ages, as I really need one for the couch and another for the bed.

I dragged myself out of the house this morning, cursing the cold, and made the long, slow, 45-minute drive west to Randfontein. I had forgotten how tiny and unassuming the Aranda factory showroom entrance is, and freaked out for a second when I thought it might be closed. It wasn’t.

Temperature taken, hands thoroughly sanitized, I waded into the blanket wonderland.

Inside the Aranda showroom
Walking into this room made me so happy.

Aranda manufactures and sells traditional Basotho blankets in a number of different price ranges and designs, as well as traditional Ndebele blankets and many other types of blankets. I wandered giddily up and down the rows — admiring new colors and patterns I’d never seen before — shooting pictures, smiling at other customers, stopping to look at various blankets but not sure what to focus on.

Aranda showroom
Photographing Basotho blankets
Everyone in the showroom was taking pictures of the different blankets and then calling or texting people, clearly struggling (as I was) to decide which blankets to buy.

Charlene, a sales lady in a pretty checked face mask, saw I needed help. She walked around with me, unfolding various blankets and making recommendations. I asked her about the blanket design with a spiral aloe in the middle, which I’d been eyeing online before I came. Charlene unfolded a dazzling blue and yellow version of that one, holding it up for me to admire.

A top contender.

I thought I would buy the aloe blanket. Until suddenly, out of nowhere, the lion caught my eye.

Lion Basotho blanket
The lion blanket.

I hadn’t planned on buying a yellow and brown blanket. But these lions spoke to me. The center of the blanket had a Basotho hat and the word “Bataung”, which I later learned is the name of a Sotho tribe and means “People of a place of lions”.

“I’m going to take this one,” I heard myself telling Charlene. And that’s what I did.

A top-of-the line Basotho blanket, made with 90% virgin lamb’s wool, costs R769 (about $45). Not a bad investment for a super-warm, super-soft blanket that will last a lifetime. There are also a few lower-cost versions, the least expensive of which is still quite sturdy and costs only R167 (about $10). I picked up four of those — one from me and three on behalf of my friend Laurice — for a blanket drive run by my friend Kennedy.

I couldn’t wait to get my new blanket home.

Heather and her Basotho blanket
Unfortunately I only realized later that I was holding up the wrong side of the blanket (hence the backwards lettering). Photo shot by my friend Michelle, whose power has been out for two days and is using my house as a home office. Photobomb by Trixie, who somehow managed to make her way into every blanket photo.
And another one.

I love my new blanket and I’m wrapped up in it as I type. Retail therapy worked this time.

Today’s Worthy Cause

Kennedy is still collecting blankets for the homeless — there is no more important cause right now in this painfully cold weather. If you live in Joburg and would like to donate a blanket, I suggest connecting with Microadventure Tours on Facebook. If you’d like to donate from overseas, please contact me.

33 Comments

  1. Catrina

    Oh wow! I need one of those Basotho Blankets!
    I would have chosen the lion one too.
    I love the light and airy living room area – just right for a cosy blanket.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      The next time you’re in SA, you must go. It’s the best place!

      Reply
      • Khahliso Mokitimi

        Violet, I’m looking for BATAUNG blanket.

        Reply
  2. RW ZA01

    R769? Haibo. At Moussa in JHB CBD (cnr Ntemi Piliso, Albertina Sisulu) they’re R360. Made in China yes. But real blankets. Not filled with foam. Plenty of other blanket shops nearby too. Maybe 15? R360-R400. But for some reason the locals think Moussa blankets are stronger. Personally I think all the shops here are eventually sourcing from the same factories. Either way, in this cold weather any blanket is good.

    Reply
    • Thembi

      I bought 1 in lesotho for R980

      Reply
  3. MapleAndMarula

    Oh man- I wish they had the lion blankets available online! I just ordered a boatload of blankets from Aranda to be delivered to a friend and stuffed in my container that will be shipped to me here in Canada….uhhhh….I don’t know when. But hopefully soon. The lion one definitely wasn’t an option! I’m still pretty happy though- we already have 4, and we’ve brought some back as gifts every time we visited home. And now we’ll have…more.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Yeah, I also noticed they have a totally different selection of blankets available online. Weird.

      Reply
  4. Albert

    I love the lion blanket!! I reminds me of the cover of a box of Lion matches. 🙂 I am def going to trek out there and get a blanket. Are they open on a Saturday?

    Reply
    • 2summers

      I think I saw on their site that they are. But best to call just in case

      Reply
      • Albert

        I quickly checked… Mon to Sat open from 8am to 4pm.

        Reply
    • 2summers

      And you’re right about the matches!

      Reply
  5. Margaret Fauchier

    Love your choice. Looks perfect with your miniature lion sitting on it. I have a Basotho hat I purchased in Lesotho years ago, so I definitely need this blanket to go with it. Since I am shut out until 2021, I may write and ask if they will ship it to me. Feeling matchy, matchy.
    Your livng room is wonderful!

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thank you! And now I have my grey lion sitting on it with me. Everyone is happy.

      Reply
  6. AutumnAshbough

    Gorgeous blanket. Of course Trixie fancies herself a lion.

    I now crave a Basotho blanket even though it is summer. Along with a Shema-lep Tibetan Style blanket.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      I don’t know what that is but also sounds AMAZING.

      Reply
  7. Rosemary

    Thank you so much for this post! I am a blanket person you see….excellent value. An all wool blanket in the the UK is – difficult to find- and around £100 (R2000).

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Yes. The value of these products is really quite unbelievable.

      Reply
  8. eremophila

    Naturally you got the lion, duh! 😁 Naturally your cats approve. And nothing beats wool.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      It’s true. This blanket is so warm and soft and just makes me so happy.

      Reply
  9. David Bristow

    So, no the Manchester United one then (seen behind lions) 🙂

    Reply
    • 2summers

      That’s also a very cool one! It’s called the NZ blanket and commemorates Basotho soldiers in WWII.

      Reply
  10. nunu5

    I bought my last blanket from the shop in Clarens, after I discovered they were impossible to find in Lesotho. I am sorry the shop closed the old lady that ran it was so sweet. Clearly there is a business to be started, shipping blankets overseas.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Yes, I think one of the sisters at the Blanket Shop might have passed away. They were in their late 80s 😢 Yes you’re right about the overseas market. I’m not sure why Aranda hasn’t done that. I guess maybe it’s a tariff issue.

      Reply
  11. Maarten

    These blankets are sooooooooo nice. We bought one when we travelled in Lesotho because we had snow and hail storms on top of SANI Pass that week. Very comfortable in SA winters 🙂

    Reply
    • 2summers

      If there were a “best blanket in the world” competition, Basotho blankets would have a great chance at winning.

      Reply
  12. Peter

    You should see those Basotho herders cruising the mountains with their blankets, gum boots and hunting dogs. Nothing quite like watching them while you fly fish for the mountain rainbow trout ….

    Reply
    • 2summers

      I have seen them! Not while fishing but in many other circumstances 🙂

      Reply
  13. Lani

    I remember that post. And what a beautiful home you have.

    Also, maybe stop counting how many days you’ve been in lockdown? (*tiny voice*) It’s too depressing!

    Reply
    • 2summers

      I’ve been debating this for ages (whether to continue doing the numbers or not) – it feels like a weighty decision after all this time! But I feel like as long as I continue blogging daily I want to continue. I may end it at day 100 though 😂

      Reply
      • Lani

        I understand, we like our nice whole round even numbers. 😛

        Reply
  14. lilly

    HI
    Can you perhaps tell me the name of the lion blanket and its price please and how do i go about getting one.

    Reply
  15. Katleho Ngcobo

    Tjoooo, U can never even begin to imagine how much this post helped me!!!!! I’m currently collecting blankets to be given to my in-laws (abakwaNgcobo) by my family (BaKoena) @ the end of the one-year-mourning-period this July since my husband passed on in July last year, and I came across this priceless information about Aranda blankets. I even called them using the telephone number provided here and I’ll definitely be travelling from here in Mthatha to Randfontein on Monday next week so that I can do my shopping for all the blankets that we need on Tuesday (29/04/2022). Thank U sooooooooooo much🙏🙏🦶

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Ahhhh, I am so happy to hear my post helped you, Katleho. And I am sorry for your loss. Best of luck with the trip!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: