OSTRICH ARTS & CRAFTS
Ostrich arts and crafts are widely regarded as some of the finest in Africa, and certainly the best in Southern Africa. The high quality, outstanding detail and originality have gained international recognition, and are visible in curio shops all over.
The inhabitants of the Klein Karoo have a long history of using various parts of the ostrich to manufacture beautiful, interesting and practical items.
The finest quality Ostrich plumes are highly sought after throughout the world. They are generally used for decorating extravagant costumes with two of the best known consumers being the Moulin Rouge in Paris and the annual carnival in Rio de Janeiro. At the other end of the scale, the humbler feathers are used to make practical and effective feather dusters in natural or bright colours.
Apart from the obvious like handbags, wallets and belts, Ostrich leather has become extremely fashionable to use as insert panels in luxury cars and is being used to create unique jewellery. It also makes beautiful, light-weight clothing like jackets, skirts and even dresses. The inspired fashion designer, Gavin Rajah, has even come up with a stunning (bronze) metallic-leather look.
Ostrich eggshells were first used by the Bushmen as jewellery, in the form of discs on a necklace, and as containers, to carry water and store water.
Nowadays, you get high-quality carved ostrich eggs showing scenes like the Big Five and ostrich eggshell lamps which show designs of magnificent detail when lit from inside.
It could be argued that ostrich tourism started with the Ostrich Show Farms which have been entertaining tourists since the Hooper family started the concept at Highgate in 1938.
Since then more ostrich-oriented tourism concepts have been developed and more new ideas are a certainty as the ostrich farmers realise the need to diversify.
Funded by fortunes built around ostrich feathers, and mostly built during the boom between 1900 and 1914, the beautiful old sandstone Feather Palaces leave Oudtshoorn with an interesting architectural draw card to attract visitors.
One of the latest developments by some ostrich farmers is to provide guided tours of their Working Ostrich Farms, usually offering accommodation, and restaurant and curio shop facilities.