Native American Basktry, Part 4


While the Panamint color palette was likely the most extensive of any tribal group using all naturally occurring colored material, the introduction of aniline dyes into the 19th century West met acceptance by a few tribes. The weavers of the Hopi of Arizona and the Jicarilla Apache of New Mexico to this day produce vibrantly colored baskets both for their own use and for resale. Thus, some tribes which seldom, if ever, portrayed realistic life forms on their basketry now did so in response to the demand for more elaborately designed pieces; and the introduction of more colorful baskets was certainly in partial response to Euro-American market forces.

Native American Basktry, Part 3


Innovations in shape began to appear in the form of goblets, hampers, lidded sewing baskets and even fishing creels as well as non-functional novelty pieces, often of quality weave, such as basketry tea pots and cups with saucers. Some weavers, like women from the Achumawi tribe in northern California and from the Makah group of coastal Washington covered bottles, abalone shells and even kerosene lamp bases in highly decorative basketry. Depending on the quality of the weave and design, any of these very innovative pieces could have appealed to either the serious collector or to the tourist during the first few decades of this century.

Native American Basktry, Part 2

While trading baskets to other native groups had a long tradition, the arrival of the collector introduced to the weavers the novel opportunity to make baskets "for sale" to non-natives who brought a new set of motivations for acquiring Native American basketry. An article written for the Placer Herald by a San Franciscan in 1891 remarks on the birth of the new craze of collecting such baskets, calling it "the latest fad among artistic people." Certainly, this fad (which continues to this day) posed a unique, if not puzzling, circumstance for the weavers who were amused by these people who paid good money for the old, often used baskets while overlooking the newer pieces.