Basotho Hat – Maseru, Lesotho - Atlas Obscura

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Basotho Hat

Maseru, Lesotho

Not only does this shop sell mokorotlo, the traditional hat of Lesotho, the building is shaped like one. 

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The Basotho people comprise 99 percent of Lesotho’s population, so it seems fitting that the remote enclave country’s only official Visitor’s Center was fashioned after their traditional straw hat.

The hat has a wide brim and a pointed top, a design that is said to be inspired by the shape of Mount Qiloane. A similar style of hat was worn by Basotho tribal chiefs, who performed a type of song known as mokorotlo at certain ceremonies. In the 1950s and 60s, the hats became popular among the wider population, and were called mokorotlo because of their connection to Basotho identity. It became such an important symbol that when Lesotho gained independence from Great Britain in 1966, it was selected to appear on the country’s new flag.

Basotho Hat is a two-story arts and crafts collective that hosts a wide assortment of baskets and weavings, all of which were manufactured throughout the Mountain Kingdom. It’s a great way to support local businesses in a place where the average salary is less than $2 USD per day.

Know Before You Go

Located just a few kilometers after you cross into the kingdom from South Africa via the busy Maseru Bridge, the Basotho Hat makes a natural first stop for day-trippers and adventure travelers alike. Free on-street parking is available.

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