Northwestern California cradle
20 7/8 in. x 9 in. x 6 3/4 in. (53.02 cm x 22.86 cm x 17.15 cm)
North America, United States, California
Medium and Support:
Hazel or willow warp shoots, probably hazel; bear grass overlay
Gift of S. O. Johnson
Size: This is the more medium of the 4 baby baskets in the collection, a great size for an infant.
Technique: Open weave twined basket with some bear grass overlay on parts of the rim/edge.
Design: These baskets are much less decorative because kids grow out of them so quickly and they’re more susceptible to damage if they get heavy use, so there isn’t really a design element in terms of an overlay pattern.
Structure: I have read in a few sources that parents used to stuff the bottom (the handle is the top) with some moss to act as a natural diaper and little cushion for the baby to sit on. There are good images in sources like Bibby’s Essential Art. There would have been straps woven through to hold the baby in, that’s why it’s such an open weave, also keeps it light. The handle is completely broken off at the top, maybe from heavy use, but there is not much damage to the inside where the straps would be woven through. The edging has some bear grass and another material like willow or sumac (it’s very shiny).
Cultural affiliation notes: The record just says Northwest California, and this is very much in the style of the Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk baby baskets in NW California, most commonly see these labelled Hupa.
Citation: Bibby, Brain. Essential Art: Native Basketry from the California Indian Heritage Center. Berkeley: Heyday Publishers, 2012.
Jesse Dutton-Kenny, Visiting Researcher, October 26th - 27th & 29th - 30th, 2020
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