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Woven Wonders: Native American Basketry

Mint Museum RANDOLPH Apr 3 2010-Dec 31 2011   /  Basketry is the world’s oldest craft tradition. Present at the dawn of civilization, it survives today with scant technical change yet nearly limitless aesthetic variability.

Exhibition Highlights

About The Exhibition

Basketry is the world’s oldest craft tradition. Present at the dawn of civilization, it survives today with scant technical change yet nearly limitless aesthetic variability.

Baskets served all facets of food gathering and production prior to the discovery of pottery making. Beyond the field and hearth, baskets stored household items, from hunting and agricultural tools to clothes, to babies, body adornments, and domesticated animals.

Among Native Americans, baskets have touched every facet of daily life, from cradle to grave, and also serve as obligatory containers and symbols during social and religious rites. Special baskets envelop ritual objects of great sanctity, shielding them from the profane world and protecting people from the objects’ extraordinary power.

The English word “basket” comes from the Welsh “basgawd” meaning “a weaving of sticks.” Made from the most basic of materials —sticks, grasses and ferns—creating a basket is a time-consuming process, from the careful harvesting, dyeing and preparation of the plant fibers to the careful fashioning of the piece. Typically the work of women, a study of basketry highlights the feminine half of society and women’s resourcefulness, inventive genius and patience.