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Perceptions of Seshoeshoe fabric, naming and meanings of motifs on fabric

B Pheto-Moeti
DM Riekert
AJ Pelser


Basotho women use seshoeshoe dress as symbol of identity. This dress is made from a fabric called terantala or seshoeshoe and that is manufactured outside of Lesotho. This study was designed to assess the perceptions of college staff and students together with seshoeshoe dressmakers with regard this fabric. The study was based on the following research questions: What is the fabric commonly referred to? Has the fabric quality changed over time?  What are the problems encountered when handling the fabric?  What are the respondents’ perceptions of the fabric uses?  Are the respondents aware of the different motifs, motif names and meanings or symbolism? 

The research design was quantitative. The sample included 140 staff members and 350 students who were randomly selected and 23 dressmakers who were selected by means of snowball sampling. The staff and students filled out a self-administrative questionnaire, while personal interviews were conducted with the dressmakers. Participants were asked to respond to aspects such as seshoeshoe fabric naming, quality, choice, fabric care, uses and health hazards as well as names and meanings of its motifs. 

Responses of participants showed that both the dress and fabric are popularly known as seshoeshoe. It was further found that the choice of the fabric has increased in the market due to the wide variety of motifs and colours although the quality of fabric has not improved. There are still problems encountered by dressmakers when handling the fabric. Most participants in the study had a good knowledge of the names of motifs. Dressmakers, being the first handlers of the new fabrics, were responsible for the originations of the names.

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eISSN: 0378-5254