Basket Weaving: A Global and Historical Look

“Before the arrival of Europeans on this continent, Californians wove baskets for many purposes: cradling babies , gathering and storing, cooking. Women wore basket hats baskets were given for gifts and made especially before ceremonies”

Ellinger, M (2010) “An Honored Art for a worthy fee: Spotlight on Weavers” News from Native California Volume 24, Num1 Pg.19.

Global and Historical Perspectives of Basket Weaving

Traces of baskets have been found in the Egyptian pyramids, and woven basket liners have left their impressions inside fragments of ancient pottery. While basket weaving is one of the widest spread crafts in the history of any human civilization, it is hard to say just how old the craft is because natural materials like wood, grass, and animal remains decay naturally constantly.

Basket Weaving is a universal art that can be traced from different countries, with varying cultures. Each country or culture focuses on different styles of weaving their baskets. One may also recognize that Baskets are made in other countries or by other non-native person that looks similar to North American Indian basketry. Examples of such is bundle coiled African basketry may resemble Coild Hopi baskets of Native Americans.

Basket Weaving Today

Many Native Americans still practice basket weaving today, as the craft continues to grow. The California Indian Basketweavers Association (CIBA), established in 1991, hosts an annual Gathering for basket weavers which is widely attended.  Right here at SFSU, students can enroll in a Native American Basket Weaving course with AIS lecturer, Kathy Wallace to learn this intricate craft. Here are some of the baskets made by students in her course last year.

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There is also a wealth of archival material on baskets, including preserved baskets from Native Californian tribes, stored in the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley. Some of our ROMC staff members had the opportunity to visit the museum and view some incredible artifacts of traditional baskets, shown below.

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