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California Hupa twined basket

20th Century
20th Century
5 7/8 in. x 8 1/2 in. (14.92 cm x 21.59 cm)

Native American, Native American

Object Type: Baskets
Creation Place: North America, United States, California
Medium and Support: Hazel or willow warp shoots; conifer root weft; bear grass and maidenhair fern overlay materials
Credit Line: Gift of Laurette Schorcht in honor of Doris Dennison, Music Director, Dance Dept. 1939-1972
Accession Number: 1997.14.4
Technique: Twined basket. Half-twist overlay, no overlay shows through to the interior. The bear grass overlay is the background color, with maidenhair fern for the design overlay. The overlay inside is very well cleaned and the edge is very smoothly finished.

Design: The design is a variation on the flint and snake design, looks just like the one on Kroeber page 129-131. Kroeber says in Karuk it is called vakaixara, corresponding to the Yurok snake design, most seen in association with the flint design. This is supposed to be a very hard design to do.

Structure: This basket has a lot in common with 1997.14.6. I would put this in the “fancy” or “trinket” basket category, partially because of the size (it’s not a classic storage basket), and also because it’s not the right shape or style to be a hat, bowl or tobacco basket. The weave of the bottom is interesting, it is starting out with a looser weave and wider warp and weft materials and progressively gets smaller and tighter in the materials and weave. Maybe it’s just easier to start that way or they’re using the bigger shoots to make a stronger bottom. I actually can’t 100% tell if the weaver used bigger warp shoots at the base or maybe was just twining around 2 thinner shoots at the base and then separating them more toward the body of the basket to form a tighter weave. There is not a lot of evidence of use or wear on this one and it feels super strong - the base helps provide that strength for sure.

Cultural affiliation notes: The original record states, “Hupa twined bowl” and I think it would be accurate to assume that’s largely correct. It could surely be Hupa and it Is twined but I wouldn’t call it a bowl. This very much matches the style and materials of Hupa baskets, but I’d be curious how the donor came to know it was Hupa specifically, perhaps they knew a little more about where they acquired it.

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

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