In previous articles, we have highlighted packing essentials when visiting unique destinations; Today, we'll be shedding light on what to bring home.
Souvenirs not only give you a chance to remember some of the most treasured moments of your experience, but they are also a great way to contribute to the local handicrafts economy, and it is one of the best ways to give back to the community.
Articrafts and locally made products are often unique and irreplaceable, generally impossible to find anywhere else, and you should always leave some room in your bag for them. Just make sure to buy local and to support some local indigenous artists!
Now, let's see just some of the most common and treasured handicrafts usually travellers bring back home after one of the Nomadic Tribe's experiences.
Mayan textiles, thousands of years old patterns:
Mayan woman weaving
Many indigenous communities all over the world have very extended textile production. In particular, the Mayan have kept this tradition alive for thousands of years; this is why some of their patterns are considered important cultural heritage, and people proudly wear them every day. Usually, women are the artists behind these intricate pieces made of colourful and soft cotton. The threads' preparation is a very lengthy process that includes multiple washes and dyes baths. While visiting Central and Latin America, make sure to stock up!
Amazigh and Moroccan carpets:
Amazigh woman weaving a carpet
Northern Africa's nomadic populations are renowned for their incredible handwoven carpets productions. With millions of years of old traditional designs, we can safely say that the carpets are never out of fashion, and they usually adorn even the most minimal and modern households. Many Amazigh families today sustain themselves with their production of carpets. Since it is needed a great mastery to hand-weave a rug, they often pass their skills (unique knotting or dying techniques) from generation to generation to ensure their products' quality and originality. The carpets might sometimes come with a label certificating its authenticity.
We know that it is difficult to make room in your backpack for an Amazigh carpet; this is why we suggest you check shipping processes and solutions before departing. Trust us; you will want one for your home!
Malekula Island, not only ceremonial masks:
Malekula tribal mask
Malekula Island is known for its impressive ceremonial masks, some of which are auctioned for millions outside their country. Carvers are pretty well established on the island, and usually, men introduce their sons to the business. But masks are not the only thing to look forward to buying on the island; there is an incredible variety of handicrafts, from jewellery to even furniture. Black palm wood and bamboo are the most common woods used because of their flexibility, and they are easier to carve. The designs are up to the artist's taste and style, and you will have a very vast selection to choose from.
We always suggest being careful with coral, shells, or bones' handicrafts as they could bring you some troubles at customs. They are also considered an unethical option since it might contribute to some local wildlife's extinction.
Himba jewellery, better than diamonds:
Himba women are renowned for their ethereal beauty, and the jewellery is carefully chosen to adorn them are only a frame to their incredible aura. Ancient jewellery is still worn by both women and men, consisting of numerous arms and legs bracelets (the last one are helpful to prevent snakebites), and necklaces. They often weigh as much as 40 kg, but they are worth the burden because they are spectacularly flamboyant. They are often made of ostrich eggshell, cloth, grass and even copper.
The famous sizeable white cone shell pendant worn by the women is called the ohumba. It is considered a fertility amulet.
Try to get some grass necklaces made by Himba women, and it will make an excellent gift for your friends!
It might seem obvious to some, but the boomerang is one of the most common handicrafts brought back by travellers after a trip to Australia. Although, not many know that it is an ancient aboriginal weapon and was used for hunting Kangaroos. Today boomerangs can have different shapes and are made of the finest woods, hand-painted or left at its original texture. It is an incredible decorative piece, but you might also find some purposely made for throwing in your backyard.
Just some reminders for responsible purchasing:
Be careful with wildlife trading; it is still a sad reality in most countries. Travellers are considered to be inadvertently supporters of a growing marketplace for trafficking rare and endangered wildlife products as souvenirs.
If you see it in a market, it does not mean it is legal to buy it, and these are often illegal to export or import. You will encounter harsh fines at customs, and you will be considered part of the trafficked at-risk species market, which is a danger to global health, according to the World Health Organization.
Here is a list of the items to avoid:
- "Antique" carved ivory tusk (they are never antique)
- coral jewellery
- Snake wine or reptile goods in general
- Tortoiseshell accessories
- Marine shells (now an endangered species)
- Objects or medicine made from protected plants; furs from tigers, most spotted cats, seals, polar bears, sea otters, live monkeys or apes.
-Certain leather products, including some made from caiman, crocodiles, lizards and snakes; some orchids, cacti, and cycads; medicinals made from rhino, tiger, or Asiatic black bear. THESE ARE DANGEROUS FOR HUMAN HEALTH (a hazard for future pandemics).
In all cases, different counties have different restrictions on imported items, so make sure to check your custom's regulation.
Nomadic Tribe Team
Cover photo, Peruvian woman spinning wool by hand, iStock.com/hadynyah