The traditional designs on baskets consist of a few patterns that portray the natural world and were produced using few colors.
Reds are extracted from the bird plum (Berchemia discolor), browns from the magic guarri (Euclea divinorum), purples from the indigo dye plant (Indigofera tinctoria and arrecta) and yellows from the red star apple (Diospyros lyciodes).
Some of the patterns have symbolic meanings or stories;
Forehead of the Zebra: Resembles the zebra’s forehead and celebrates the beauty of the animal.
Tears of the Giraffe: There is strong belief amongst the hunting tribes of Botswana that a giraffe weeps when it is killed. The tears of this majestic animal inspired the pattern and give respect to the animal.
(Tears of the Giraffe)
Back of a Python: The meat of a python is considered a rare delicacy amongst the Bayei Tribes and is considered a gift from the gods. Therefore, the pattern commemorates this gift
Flight of the Swallow: May represents an omen of good fortune since these birds fly in a triangular pattern before it rains
Urine trail of the Bull: Which describes the patterns caused by the movement of the bull’s sheath whilst it walks and urinates
Roof of a Rondavel: How Batswana thatch their mud huts
Ribs of the Giraffe: The curved lines radiating from the center of the basket are called 'ribs of the giraffe'. Many years ago, women followed men on the hunt. After the kill, they would flay the giraffe of its meat so only the ribs remained.
Shield: The baskets also depict the warrior's shield; representing defense.