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Twined ceremonial basket cap, Karuk

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Twined ceremonial basket cap, Karuk

20th Century
4 1/8 in. x 7 in. (10.48 cm x 17.78 cm)

Native American, Native American

Object Type: Baskets
Creation Place: North America, United States, NW California
Medium and Support: Hazel or willow warp shoots; conifer root weft; woodwardia fern dyed with alder bark, bear grass and maidenhair fern overlay materials
Credit Line: Gift of S. O. Johnson
Accession Number: 1948.50
Size: 7 in diameter, so it’s a little smaller but could be worn

Technique: Twined basket. Half-twist overlay, no overlay shows through to the interior. It’s a “red hat” meaning its predominantly woodwardia fern dyed with alder bark as the overlay, but this one actually looks like it’s all conifer root background with no overlay (not typical in ceremonial caps) with a couple of woodwardia stripes plus maidenhair and some bear grass in other parts of the overlay.

Design: The design looks quite like the one on page 129-131 of Kroeber, which he describes is an apxanko’ikoi design of the Karuk that corresponds to the wax’poo of the Yurok. He notes that the word apxan in Karuk means basketry caps, and the second part, koikoi seems to mean up down, up down referring to the style of the pattern. It’s a little odd that there are 6 designs (usually meant to be odd numbers). This cap is beautiful, but you can tell after close looking that it’s a little “off” in some ways perhaps indicating it was made for sale or trade (the design, the materials), some weavers might say this is “not ideal,” especially because it’s not all overlaid.

Structure: This cap is less “perfect”, though, it seems like maybe the weaver was less experienced because it is a bit rougher and more warped than typically expected. It has a clipped warp edge. The lifelines are very pronounced, with a stick woven in which makes me think it is probably Karuk because that’s one of their indicators, plus the “red hats” being more likely Karuk. There are no hairs on this cap that I could see.

Cultural affiliation notes: A classic Hupa, Yurok, and/or Karuk ceremonial cap, most likely Karuk.

Citation: Kroeber, Alfred L. “Basket Designs of the Indians of Northwestern California.” University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 2, no. 4 (1905): 105-164

Jesse Dutton-Kenny, Visiting Researcher, October 26th - 27th & 29th - 30th, 2020

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:

  • Height and diameter Dimensions: 4 1/8 x 7 in. (104.78 x 177.8 mm)

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