Learn more about Bambizulu Artists.

Who is Beauty Bathembile Ngxongo?

Beauty Batimbele Ngxongo is a world renowned artist and a custodian of the craft of Zulu Basketry. She was born in South Western Kwa Zulu Natal in 1953 but resides in the Empembeni district in the remote area of Hlabisa which is situated in the Umkhanyakude District in the North-Eastern part of KwaZulu Natal. The Umkhanyakude District although very rural, is where some of the most outstanding artists in South Africa have been forged and where Beauty learned the art of Zulu Basketry.

The craft of Zulu basketry had declined in the 1930’s and was virtually forgotten before it was revived again in the late 1960’s. Amongst the women who revived the craft was Laurentia Dlamani who became Beauty’s mentor and close friend. Beauty soon became one of the most recognised master basket weavers and a worldwide recognised artist. She has pioneered taking a traditional craft and revolutionising in to art of exquisite beauty that talks to the viewer of hope, beauty, simplicity and love.

Beauty has won the South African National Best Artist award. Her works are published in many books and magazines, and is in permanent collection and represented in most local many international museums and art galleries. Her opus is the water vessel known as Isichumu and there is several of her signature art in collectors homes. Beauty has over time triumphed over many challenges and championed many community causes.

What Beauty creates is more than just a beautiful work of art. There’s a lot of love and spiritual strength trapped in her work that is tangible to anyone who comes into contact with her art.

What Goes into Making a Beauty Ngxongo Basket?

My baskets have gone beyond the point of craft and functionality and are creations of art. They are expressions and reflections of my personality. Trapped in each basket is a bit of my soul. Yet, woven in each basket is the tradition of my people the Zulu that stretches over many centuries. Each basket though stitched with a weave unique to me, nonetheless carries with it the method of basketry born of necessity and functionality that has served the Zulu’s needs well for hundreds of years. I find my creativity between the spaces of craft and art thereby blurring the two.

Why Collect a Beauty Ngxongo Creation?

As technologies advances and uniformity increases, there is a public desire for authenticity that is satisfied through handmade crafts and fine art.

A Beauty Ngxongo creation is a language of material, origin and making that speaks to the viewer about aesthetics, value and appreciation and appeals to the idea of authenticity and uniqueness.

The value of a Beauty Ngxongo basket is not solely monetary or aesthetic but is also social. Knowing how and where and by whom the basket is made makes the owner more invested in it.

Preserved in each basket is the rich tradition of the Zulu as well as part of the tapestry of South Africa and a bit of the soul of the artist that is Beauty Ngxongo.

Collecting a Beauty Ngxongo creation therefore is collecting a piece of art created with love and woven with wisdom that that goes beyond the nimbleness of the fingers but speaks of a history of a people, the beauty of a country and the creativity and individual expression of the artist.