Khomani Sisen Arts and Crafts

Sisen is a Khomani San crafts project in the southern Kalahari Desert of South Africa. Sisen, in the ancient /N’u language of the region, means ‘we work’. The Khomani San moved back to their ancestral land in the Kalahari after a successful land claim in 1999. The crafts project was initiated in October 2000 to create income-generating opportunities for these ‘first people’ of Southern Africa. Sisen provides the welcome opportunity not only to work for an income, but also to practice and develop the ancient tradition of crafting, using mostly indigenous materials. Though not identical to the items made by previous generations, all crafts produced are traditionally inspired.

The desert offers materials such as twigs, bone, horn, quills, pods and seeds. Skins are obtained from neighboring hunting farms and the many ostriches in the area see to it that there are plenty of eggshells used in many of the crafts. No harm is done to the environment and no animals killed for the sole purpose of crafting. Designs often tell a story, and the crafts are strong and durable. Because all items are hand-made, no two are identical.

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