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. While some of these curious shapes did indeed challenge the skill of the weaver, it is important to note that classical basketry of unparalleled weave was also produced for the non-native during this time frame.

Some examples were carried to new heights of excellence such as baskets produced by some of the Washo weavers in early 20th century California or, in Arizona the beautifully crafted Apache ollas which, in response to the taste of the Euro-American collector, were now woven with elaborate patterns utilizing human and animal forms. Women of the Panamint tribe of interior California, considered by some to have been the most skilled basketry weavers in North America, carried elaborate patterning a step further in the 1930s by creating vivid pictorial baskets of pink, yellow, black and red featuring birds, trees, squirrels, butterflies and more. These baskets today usually sell in the four figures and are highly prized by collectors.