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Omba Arts Trust

Of ostrich eggshell jewelry and woven baskets

Representing artists from several Namibian groups, the Omba Arts Trust provides rural artisans with a means of income and creative expression. For decades, Namibia has been struck by economic hardship, and making art has long been a crucial source of income for its inhabitants. Omba’s members produce a range of strikingly innovative and astonishingly beautiful items, from baskets to jewelry.

One type of basket, called Kavango, is traditionally used for harvesting pearl millet but is suitable for any number of practical tasks. Though techniques and basic materials remain the same, the basket weavers developed a wholly new, sustainable black dye, which they use to add contrast and visual intrigue to items that are both immaculately woven and eye-catchingly contemporary. 

Omba’s artisans produce a type of jewelry which will almost certainly be unfamiliar to most Western audiences: necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and more using beads made of ostrich eggshells. Other statement jewelry items are made of recycled PVC pipe, Omba’s artisans transform into bracelets. Popular throughout northern Namibia, the bracelets feature high-contrast geometric designs of inlaid pigment. In yet another material, intricately designed strands of beads make beautiful jewelry. Omba’s members also stitch beads onto black fabric to make decorative textiles. Glass beads have been worn, traded, and given as gifts by Namibian people for hundreds of years. Whatever their creations, the women of Omba Arts Trust are dedicated to innovation, artistic expression, and to producing both functional and beautiful artwork of the highest caliber.