Book: OTTHAVA: Making Baskets and Doing Geometry in the Makhuwa Culture in the Northeast of Mozambique by Paulus Gerdes

(ISBN 978-0-557-38290-3, 2010, 292 pp.)

In the book “Otthava: Making Baskets and Doing Geometry in the Makhuwa Culture in the Northeast of Mozambique” I reflect on practices in the Makhuwa culture, which provide evidence of the geometric considerations operating in basket weaving, and are suitable and appropriate for mathematical and educational exploration. A proper scientific understanding of this knowledge, and the educational value of these manifestations may lead to a better appreciation of the Makhuwa culture, and its contribution to Mozambican culture as a whole. The practices I present in this book belong to the cultural sphere of ‘otthava’ – weaving, plaiting, interweaving, interlacing, braiding – that is, to basket- and mat-weaving. The topics which are analysed are the making of funnels (Chapter 1), hats (Chapter 2), fish traps (Chapter 3), containers (Chapter 4), trays (Chapter 5), dance rattles (Chapter 6), purses (Chapter 7), decorated braids (Chapter 8), baskets and handbags (Chapters 9 and 10), knots (Chapter 11) and circular mats (Appendix 3). In each chapter, I propose possible ways in which to explore and value, both scientifically and educationally, the geometrical knowledge inherent in the cultural practices under consideration. For instance, symmetries, polygons and polyhedra, spirals, cylinders, helices, band- and plane patterns are analysed. (from the backcover text)

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