|Basketry represents the oldest and the most widespread craft in the world. It is seen as an integral part of human civilization for its utilitarian purposes and sustainability. In Nepal, basket-making is one of the oldest practices of the Tharu community, and is connected to their various rituals from birth to death. The Tharu people are one of the indigenous ethnic groups who predominantly live in the Terai region stretching from east to west across southern Nepal. This group worships nature and natural products and is famous for its basketry crafts, Mithila and relief arts, and natural fiber floorings.
A Tharu myth illustrates that Jasu, the first woman, taught irrigation and basketry to her counterpart Ishu, and thereafter the basketry tradition began. Intricately woven from locally available thatch grass, the baskets have evolved and are used in special ceremonies as well as more daily uses, ranging from storing valuables to carrying grains and vegetables. Woven basketry has an immense cultural significance to the Tharu people. It symbolizes the traditional skills of young unmarried Tharu girls who, when married, weave a series of baskets and take them to their in-laws’ homes as their precious dowry. Therefore, basket-making practice is considered a gift exchange system that binds two families together through marriage. This skill is transferred from mother to daughter.