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Basket Case

The baskets here are from the Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson Collection. Most date around the turn of the 20th century. Obviously, baskets were made by those Native people who had access to the plant materials necessary to construct the baskets. These individuals used everything from willow, cottonwood, and sumac to yucca and hemp. They used numerous roots and grasses, too, such as bulrush root, spruce root, deer grass, bear grass, sedge root, and maiden hair fern. The baskets had a variety of uses including a water jar, sally bag (wallet), seed jar, all kinds of trays, and ceremonial and gift baskets. The tribes represented in this collection are the familiar (Apache, Salish, Hopi, Paiute, and Ojibwa) and the not so familiar (Pomo, Pima, Yokuts, and Yavapai, to name a few). The majority of the descriptions are quite extensive having been studied by basket expert Ms. Bryn B. Potter, Adjunct Curator of Anthropology, Riverside (CA) Metropolitan Museum. Learn more about construction, materials, and purposes below. See if you can map out the locations of the tribes represented!

A Buffalo Bill Center of the West Virtual Exhibit
Curated by: Marg2309


NA.106.771
Southwestern | Pueblo | bask...
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NA.106.771 | pre-18th century | Diameter: 6.5 in, H: 7.75 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | Used as a water jar. | na.106.771.jpg | na.106.771v1.jpg | na.106.771v2.jpg | na.106.771v4.jpg | na.106.771v3.jpg | basket | pine pitch | Willow | Sumac | Southwestern | Pueblo

NA.106.810
Southwestern | basket | Wove...
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NA.106.810 | Diameter: 12 in, H: 16 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.810.jpg | basket | Woven | Southwestern

NA.106.766
Western Apache | Southwest |...
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NA.106.766 | ca. 1875 | Diameter: 15 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.766v1.jpg | na.106.766v3.jpg | na.106.766.jpg | na.106.766v2.jpg | na.106.766v4.jpg | basket | Cottonwood | devil's claw | Western Apache tray. The Western Apache were traditionally Athabaskan speakers who migrated from their homeland in the interior of northern Canada to the American southwest during late pre-historic times. Since complex coiled basketry was all but unknown among the Canadian Athabaskans it is assumed that the Apache learned how to weave such baskets after their arrival in the southwest, possibly from the Pueblo Indians of the Yuman speaking peoples such as the Yavapai who were in the southwest before the Apache and whose baskets are most similar to their work. The Western Apache are divided in four different groups: Tonto, Cibeque, White Mountain and San Carlos. Their baskets are mostly indistinguishable consequently; the term Western Apache is applied to this body of basket weaving. This tray is an exceptionally early example of Western Apache basketry and compares quite favorably with the pre-1890 examples of Apache trays in the Hubble Trading Post collection, National Park Service, Ganado, Arizona. Like this example, those trays also display simple geometric designs, much wear and have incrustations of old food matter. Another body of pre-1890 Apache trays, some of which bear strong similarities to this example, are the Luckett collection of Apache trays that appear in APACHE INDIAN BASKETS, by Clara Lee Tanner, 1982, pp. 104-113. This tray's design is comprised of five, bold, expanding "spokes" radiating outward from the basket's center. Coiling is to the left using three peeled cotton wood (Populus) rods for the foundation of the coil. The sewing splints are peeled cottonwood for the white (now aged a light honey color), devils claw (Proboscidea) for the black. There is extensive rim damage and this basket exhibits a great deal of wear overall. | Western Apache | Southwest | Arizona

NA.106.801
Ojibwa | basket | Woven
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NA.106.801 | ca. 1880 | H: 3 in, width: 3.75 in, depth: 8.25 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.801.jpg | basket | Woven | Ojibwa

NA.106.764
Southwest | Western Apache |...
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NA.106.764 | ca. 1880 | Diameter: 14 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.764v1.jpg | na.106.764v3.jpg | na.106.764v4.jpg | na.106.764.jpg | na.106.764v2.jpg | checkerboard | basket | Cottonwood | devil's claw | Southwest | Western Apache | Arizona

NA.106.780
Pomo | basket | Woven
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NA.106.780 | ca. 1880 | L: 15 in, width: 7.5 in, depth: 2.75 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.780.jpg | basket | Woven | Pomo "boat" shaped basket. The Pomo are a large tribe divided into seven groups each traditionally speaking a distinct dialect of the Pomo language, which is part of the Hokan linguistic stock. Their name means "People of the Red Earth" in reference to a red mineral pigment that they dug both for their own use and for trade. Their region of habitation was what are now the counties of Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake in northwestern California. Famous for their basketry, this northern California tribe produced a great variety of finely executed baskets. These oval baskets are sometimes referred to as a "boat" shaped basket but their original intent or function remains unknown. (An exception is a large example documented by Mason that he says was used as a shaman's basket). The design exhibited by this basket is a fairly elaborate one of broad zigzag bands edged in fine serrates which is frequently found on these single rod baskets. Native made white clamshell beads, each topped with a glass seed bead, are interspersed around the basket as are quail topknots. Coiling is to the left using a single peeled willow (Salix) rod for the foundation of the coil. Sewing splints are split sedge root (Carex) for the tan and bulrush root (Scirpus) which has not been dyed for the brown design elements. A fairly large example. | Pomo

NA.106.772
Western Apache | basket | Wo...
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NA.106.772 | ca. 1880 | Diameter: 15.5 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.772v2.jpg | na.106.772v4.jpg | na.106.772.jpg | na.106.772v1.jpg | na.106.772v3.jpg | basket | Woven | Western Apache burden basket. The Western Apache were traditionally Athabaskan speakers who migrated from their homeland in the interior of northern Canada to the American southwest during late pre-historic times where they learned the art of basket making from the Puebloan and the Yuman peoples. The Western Apache are divided in four different groups: Tonto, Cibeque, White Mountain and San Carlos. Their baskets are mostly indistinguishable consequently; the term Western Apache is applied to this body of basket weaving. The Apaches were traditionally a far ranging semi-nomadic people who would gather foodstuffs during their cyclical journey. The burden basket was important to this process as it fulfilled the need for a alight but durable receptacle. This example is a full sized burden basket for use by an adult and clearly exhibits the multiple twining techniques commonly used to construct Apache burden baskets. Three strand twining; two stick twill twining and two stick plain twining are all used in the construction of this particular piece. There are five design bands of red and black stripes. Materials used in this piece's construction are peeled willow rods (Salix) for the warps and split and peeled sumac (Rhus) for the tan wefts. The black design elements are done in devils claw (Proboscidea) and the red is dyed sumac. | Western Apache

NA.106.779
Southwest | Papago | Arizona...
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NA.106.779 | ca. 1880 | Diameter: 15 in, depth: 4 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.779.jpg | basket | Willow | bear grass | devil's claw | Southwest | Papago | Arizona | Tohono O'odham

NA.106.783
Hupa | basket | Woven
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NA.106.783 | ca. 1880 | Diameter: 9.75 in, H: 5 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.783.jpg | basket | Woven | Hupa "fancy" bowl. The Hupa live on the Trinity River system in northwestern California. Their language belongs to the Athabaskan linguistic family; which is unusual for California with only four of the many tribes in that state belonging to this stock. This type of fully overlayed bowl was called a "fancy" basket; these were largely made for sale to non-Indian and often displayed excellent workmanship. Of special note is the elaborate design on the basket's bottom which echoes the triangle designs on the sides of the basket. The weaving technique employed was plain twining with peeled hazel rods (Corylus) used for the warp and split pint root (Pinus) for the weft. The design was done using a half twist overlay using bear grass (Xerophyllum) for the white, maiden hair fern stem (Adiatum) for the black and giant chain fern stem (Woodwardia) that has been dyed with the inner bark of the white alder (Alnus) for the red. Three strand twining, which is typically slightly raised above the surface was used on the basket's bottom. | Hupa

NA.106.761
Yavapai | Arizona | Southwes...
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NA.106.761 | ca. 1890 | Diameter: 8 in, H: 2.125 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | Yavapai coiled willow basket on a three rod willow foundation with devil's claw as the design material. There is a white substance on both sides of the basket, and a nail hole (Bryn Potter: 7/2013- AMD). | na.106.761.jpg | na.106.761v1.jpg | na.106.761v4.jpg | na.106.761v2.jpg | na.106.761v3.jpg | dog | basket | devil's claw | Willow | Cottonwood | Yavapai tray. The Yavapai traditionally spoke one of the Yuman languages and ranged through the Verde Valley region of central Arizona. Their name means "People of the sun". Although they were politically allied with the Apache, they were not related to them. They were often confused with Apache and even their basketry is frequently misidentified as Apache. The differences between Yavapai and Apache baskets are subtle but often distinct (admittedly some cannot be told apart). Generally, Yavapai weavers make a heavier use of devil's claw in their weaving resulting in a roughly equal ratio between light and dark material. This handsome old tray exhibits several Yavapai trails including the classic Yavapai use of both negative and positive figures (in this example dogs) within the same basket and a roughly equal ratio between light and dark materials. Coiling is to the left using three willow (salix) rods for the foundation of the coil. This is then sewn with split and peeled cottonwood (Populus) for the white (now aged a light honey color) and devils claw (Proboscidea) for the black design elements. | Yavapai | Arizona | Southwest

NA.106.750
Western Apache | basket | Wo...
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NA.106.750 | ca. 1890 | Diameter: 19 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.750v1.jpg | na.106.750v3.jpg | na.106.750.jpg | na.106.750v2.jpg | na.106.750v4.jpg | basket | Woven | Western Apache tray. The Western Apache were traditionally Athabaskan speakers who migrated from their homeland in the interior of northern Canada to the American southwest during late pre-historic times. Since complex coiled basketry was all but unknown among the Canadian Athabaskans it is assumed that the Apache learned how to weave such baskets after their arrival in the southwest, possibly from the Pueblo Indians of the Yuman speaking peoples such as the Yavapai who were in the southwest before the Apache and whose baskets are most similar to their work. The Western Apache are divided in four different groups: Tonto, Cibeque, White Mountain and San Carlos. Their baskets are mostly indistinguishable consequently; the term Western Apache is applied to this body of basket weaving. This tray displays a large central star pattern, rather thinly executed, surrounded by unknown floating elements the remind on e of large drops but perhaps they were intended to represent pendulous flowers. Coiling is to the left using three peeled cotton wood (Populus) rods for the foundation of the coil. The sewing splints are peeled cottonwood for the white (now aged a light honey color), devils claw (Proboscidea) for the black. | Western Apache

NA.106.746
Western Apache | basket | Wo...
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NA.106.746 | ca. 1890 | Diameter: 13 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.746v2.jpg | na.106.746v3.jpg | na.106.746v4.jpg | na.106.746.jpg | na.106.746v1.jpg | basket | Woven | Western Apache tray. The Western Apache were traditionally Athabaskan speakers who migrated from their homeland in the interior of northern Canada to the American southwest during late pre-historic times. Since complex coiled basketry was all but unknown among the Canadian Athabaskans it is assumed that the Apache learned how to weave such baskets after their arrival in the southwest, possibly from the Pueblo Indians of the Yuman speaking peoples such as the Yavapai who were in the southwest before the Apache and whose baskets are most similar to their work. The Western Apache are divided in four different groups: Tonto, Cibeque, White Mountain and San Carlos. Their baskets are mostly indistinguishable consequently; the term Western Apache is applied to this body of basket wearing. The Apache called tray forms such as this "tsa niskagi". The polychrome design exhibits a central star of flower motif with elements (perhaps representing butterflies) floating within the open ground. The rim has been finished off using full rim ticking (alternating white and black stitches). Coiling is to the left using three peeled cotton wood (Populus) rods for the foundation of the coil. Sewing materials are peeled cottonwood for the white, split devils claw (Proboscidea) for the black and perhaps yucca root (Yucca) fore the red design elements. | Western Apache

NA.106.803
Modoc | Klamath | basket | W...
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NA.106.803 | ca. 1890 | Diameter: 7 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.803.jpg | na.106.803v3.jpg | na.106.803v1.jpg | na.106.803v2.jpg | na.106.803v4.jpg | basket | Woven | Modoc | Klamath

NA.106.762
Mission Indians | basket | W...
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NA.106.762 | Late 19th Century | Diameter: 8 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.762.jpg | na.106.762v1.jpg | na.106.762v2.jpg | na.106.762v3.jpg | na.106.762v4.jpg | basket | Woven | Mission Indians

NA.106.768
Salish | Puget Sound Salish ...
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NA.106.768 | Late 19th Century | Diameter: 12 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.768v3.jpg | na.106.768v1.jpg | na.106.768v2.jpg | na.106.768v4.jpg | na.106.768.jpg | basket | Woven | Puget Sound Salish bowl, most likely Nisqually. The Nisqually belong to the Southern Coast Salish branch of the Puget Sound Salish peoples. Their language belongs to the southern branch of the Lushootseed which in turn belongs to the Salishan family. Their territory was the Nisqually River system near the head of Puget Sound, a heavily forested area with substantial rainfall. Nisqually basketry is coiled with the designs executed in a technique called imbrication, found only among Northwest coast and Plateau tribes. This technique is accomplished by inserting the design material under one stitch, folding it back and over that stitch and then tucked again under the next stitch. The resulting effect is similar to corn on the cob. This partially imbricated basket displays a stacked chevron design executed in white, red and black imbrication. Coiling is to the right with both the bundle foundation and the sewing splints being split peeled root of the western red cedar (Thuja). Design materials are bear grass (Xerophyllum) for the white, the inner bark of the western red cedar for the red and horsetail root (Equisitum) for the black. Displaying good design quality, this basket is also an example from a rare group of Puget Sound Salish. | Salish | Puget Sound Salish

NA.106.777
Yokuts | basket | Woven
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NA.106.777 | Late 19th Century | Diameter: 17 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.777.jpg | basket | Woven | Yokuts bowl. The Yokuts, whose members traditionally spoke the Yokutsan language (of the old Penutian linguistic family), lived in the central San Juaquin Valley region of California. Their territory stretched roughly from just south of Sacramento to what is now Bakersfield. They were formerly called the Tulare Indians by the Spanish settlers meaning "people of the tules", tule being a type of marsh plant found in the shallow lakes and wetlands throughout traditional Yokuts territory. They were at one time a very large tribe with sixty-three sub-tribal divisions with estimates of 25,000 to 35,000 people in 1772 when the Spanish first arrived in the area (Latta). Today their population has shrank to a fraction of that number. The Yokuts were particularly famous for their elaborate polychrome baskets of which this a very fine example. While cooking bowls are usually deep, occasionally a shallow sharply flared bowl such as this example was made and may have been intended fro the Washing Ceremony which was associated with mourning rites. This bowl displays five bands of design with the band second from the top representing stylized butterflies. These number bands of small geometric units suggest a possible origin of the Porterville region for this basket. Sewing splints are split sedge root (Carex) for the tan, split non-peeled redbud (Cercis) for the red and dyed bracken fern root (Pteridium) for the black. A very interesting basket. | Yokuts

NA.106.781
Pomo | basket | Woven
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NA.106.781 | Late 19th Century | Diameter: 17 in, depth: 6 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.781.jpg | basket | Woven | Pomo winnowing tray. The Pomo are a large tribe divided into seven groups each traditionally speaking a distinct dialect of the Pomo language, which is part of the Hokan linguistic stock. Their name means "People of the Red Earth" in reference to a red mineral pigment that they dug both for their own use and for trade. Their region of habitation was what are now the counties of Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake in northwestern California. Famous for their basketry, this northern California tribe produced a great variety of finely executed baskets. However, little is discussed in the literature about the less elaborate Pomo utilitarian baskets. This tray is a multipurpose basket that could have been used for winnowing, parching or utilized in the process of sifting acorn flour, a staple in the traditional diet. Three major bands of design are exhibited on this tray. Of note, the large outer band of zigzag design marks are most usually found on Pomo twined baskets as opposed to their coiled work. Several types of twining were employed in weaving this piece. The center was done in three-strand twining and the raised bands were done in lattice twining. The balance of the basket was woven in plain twining. Whole, peeled willow (Salix) rod for the warp, split sedge root (Carex) for the light brown weft, natural redbud (Cercis) for the red design elements. A good, old example. | Pomo

NA.106.775
Pomo | basket | Woven
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NA.106.775 | Late 19th Century | Diameter: 7 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.775.jpg | na.106.775v3.jpg | na.106.775v4.jpg | na.106.775v1.jpg | na.106.775v2.jpg | basket | Woven | Pomo feathered hanging basket. The Pomo are a large tribe divided into seven groups each traditionally speaking a distinct dialect of the Pomo language, which is part of the Hokan linguistic stock. Their name means "People of the Red Earth" in reference to a red mineral pigment that they dug both for their own use and for trade. Their region of habitation was what are now the counties of Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake in northwestern California. Famous for their basketry, this northern California tribe produced a great variety of finely executed baskets. By the late 19th century, the Pomo were the only California tribe that continued to produce fully feathered baskets. These shallow circular baskets or trays, often hung with beaded shell pendants, wee know as sun trays tin reference to Pomo mythology. The design, executed in feathers, is of triangle done in green iridescent feathers against a background of yellow and red (near the rim) feathers. Abalone pendants are suspended from short glass trade bead dangles and a row of native made clamshell beads surrounds the rim. There are remnants of quail topknots associated with these shell heads. A very unusual feature of this basket is the row of red glass trade beads on the basket's interior. Coiling is to the left using three peeled willow (Salix) rods for the foundation of the coil. Sewing splints are split peeled sedge root (Carex) and there are no designs within the basketry itself. The coiling is called ci-bu (three rod) and the full feathering "ta'-pika". About 30% of the feathering is missing most likely due to moth damage. An old brass tag attached to the basket's rim reads "A70". A fine example in spite of the feather loss. | Pomo

NA.106.774
Umatilla | basket | Woven
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NA.106.774 | Late 19th Century | Diameter: 6 in, H: 2 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.774.jpg | na.106.774v1.jpg | na.106.774v3.jpg | na.106.774v4.jpg | na.106.774v2.jpg | basket | Woven | Umatilla sally bag. The Umatilla Indians belong to the Sahaptian speaking tribes of the Plateau Penutian linguistic family. Their homelands are in the Plateau region of the Columbia River with their reservation situated in the northeast corner of Oregon. As a part of the Columbia River Plateau cultural complex, the Umatilla produced flat twined bags (or "wallets" as they are sometimes called) and cylindrical twined bags called sally bags. This basket is a good example displaying the false embroidery technique of woven cornhusk. The warp is native hemp and the weft is commercial cotton cord obtained from the hop fields in which a number of the late 19th century Plateau Indian labored. (The hop plaints were trained to grow on a trellis strung with commercial cotton cord). This is a nice little example of a Umatilla bag. | Umatilla

NA.106.770
Pomo | basket | Woven
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NA.106.770 | Late 19th Century | Diameter: 8 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.770.jpg | na.106.770v1.jpg | na.106.770v2.jpg | na.106.770v3.jpg | na.106.770v4.jpg | basket | Woven | Pomo

NA.106.758
Hopi | basket | Woven
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NA.106.758 | ca. 1900 | Diameter: 14 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.758v1.jpg | na.106.758v2.jpg | na.106.758v4.jpg | na.106.758v3.jpg | na.106.758.jpg | basket | Woven | Hopi

NA.106.763
Havasupai | Arizona | Southw...
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NA.106.763 | ca. 1900 | Diameter: 7 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.763.jpg | na.106.763v2.jpg | na.106.763v1.jpg | na.106.763v3.jpg | na.106.763v4.jpg | basket | devil's claw | cotton wood | Willow | Havasupai bowl. The Havasupai traditionally were a Yuman-speaking people whose name means "People of the Blue Waters" and they continue to dwell in the Grand Canton region of northwest Arizona. These Indians produced baskets that are easily confused with Yavapai and Apache basketry. Three of the key features that can readily separate Havasupai from the other are: 1. Of these three groups on the Havasupai did braided rims, 2. The Yavapai and Apache finished the final row of coiling in devils claw but the Havasupai prefer a white willow finish or they allow the design to flow off the edge, 3. Havasupai basket shapes were seldom used by the Yavapai or the Apache. In this case, neither Yavapai nor Apache wove straight-sided cylindrical basket forms. Coiling is to the left using three willow (Salix) rods for the foundation of the coil and the sewing materials are split and peeled cottonwood (Populus) for the white and devils claw (Proboscidea) for the black design elements. | Havasupai | Arizona | Southwest

NA.106.797
Paiute | basket | Woven
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NA.106.797 | ca. 1900 | Diameter: 11 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.797v2.jpg | na.106.797v4.jpg | na.106.797v1.jpg | na.106.797v3.jpg | na.106.797.jpg | basket | Woven | Paiute coiled basket. The newer basket is either a San Juan Paiute or a Ute piece woven with the traditional 20th century Navaho wedding basket design. Because of the many taboos placed on the weaving of their wedding baskets, many Navajo women ceased to weave such baskets in stead trading for baskets that the San Juan Paiute or Ute women wove specifically for the Navajos. Thus, large portions of the Twentieth century Navajo wedding baskets were not woven by Navajos at all. Coiling is to the left using three stacked willow rods (Salix) for foundation of the coil. Sewing materials are split peeled willow splints. The simple designs are done in wrapped work using dyed Yucca leaf. There are remnants of two handles, opposite one another, that appears to have been once attached to the body of the basket with cotton string. | Paiute

NA.106.782
Hupa | Wilkut | basket | Wov...
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NA.106.782 | ca. 1900 | Diameter: 6.25 in, H: 4.5 in | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris A. Thompson | na.106.782.jpg | basket | Woven | Hupa | Wilkut