Therina Groenewald: Basotho house – professional photographer.
It is a tradition where women decorate a house after the men have finished building the house. These highly decorative designs are soft and flowing geometric patterns that are applied with fingers, forks and sticks on the walls of houses.
The patterns are sometimes coloured with natural pigments or commercial paint and stains. Stones, embedded in mud and relief designs are sometimes used as a more permanent effect.
The word Litema (pronounced as “di-the-ma”) is derived from the word “ho lema” which means to cultivate, and “tema”, which denotes a ploughed field. The geometric patterns appeared initially on the inside of dwellings and it was only in the 19th century that it appeared on the outside of homes.
In contemporary times the practice of Litema appears to be a seasonal phenomenon associated with special events such as celebrations and religious ceremonies. It not only announces births, deaths, weddings or the arrival of Christmas and Easter, but also serves as a reminder of the passage of time.