Klamath woven basket
30 7/8 in. x 13 in. x 6 in. (78.42 cm x 33.02 cm x 15.24 cm)
North America, United States
Medium and Support:
Hazel or willow warp shoots, probably hazel; bear grass overlay
Gift of Mills College President Aurelia Henry Reinhardt
Size: This is the biggest of the 4 baby baskets in the collection.
Technique: Open weave twined basket with some bear grass overlay on parts of the horizontal bands on the exterior and on the rim/edge.
Design: These baskets are much less decorative because kids grow out of them quicly 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: This baby basket seems almost too big, but maybe for a small toddler with some blankets it wouldn’t be too roomy. 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 damaged maybe from heavy use, and some interior sticks are also damaged, maybe from weaving straps through. This one seems pretty sturdy, much more reinforced with the horizontal bands since they’re a lot wider and use more material than the smaller baby baskets. It’s for a bigger child with more weight, so it needs to be stronger. There is some residue and oily wear indicating handling and potential use over time.
Cultural affiliation notes: The record just says Klamath and there is some ambiguity here about whether that means lower Klamath River groups like the Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk - or NE California Klamath region groups like the Klamath/Modoc, Pit River, Shasta, etc. This is very much in the style of the Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk baby baskets.
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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This object was included in the following exhibitions: