The world is full of baskets. There are
little baskets, giant baskets, basket's made out of reeds, and plastic
laundry baskets. It is nearly impossible to walk into any house without
seeing some kind of basket. What we seldom stop to think about is what the
baskets in our homes say about us. People who have a house with lots of
little baskets are people who like to have an unusual place to keep the
small but important things in their life.
The tiny baskets are used to house
things like earrings, rings, credit cards, and other precious mementos.
People who knit or read a lot of magazines are often attracted to medium
sized baskets that are then placed in a convenient spot beside a chair or
tucked under a coffee table. Large Baskets are often used as laundry
hampers and storage containers.
Basket weaving is a form of usable art.
In today's modern era there is no longer a need to actually spend the time
gathering reeds, soaking them in water, and then painstakingly weave them
into a basket. In today's world there are machines and factories that will
do the same thing. Just because the technology exist to mass produce
baskets doesn't mean that basket makers are no longer weaving reeds into
works of art.
Basket makers would have been the unsung hero of the typical Native
American tribe. While the hunters, warriors, shamans, and chiefs were the
tribe members that the entire tribe looked up to, the member that songs
were sung to and stories were told about, the tribe would have fallen
apart without its basket weavers.
The tribes basket makers would have typically been women and children as
well as the men who where either injured or to old to go out on hunts. The
basket makers would have sent children, probably very young children, to
gather a variety of reeds, grasses and other types of vegetation. Once the
basket making materials were gathered the basket makers would then
painstakingly work to create a basket. The size of the basket would have
been determined by whatever the tribe needed at the time.
The tribe's basket makers would have been easy to identity simply by
looking at their hands. The reeds and vegetation used to create the
baskets had to be soaked. If the reeds got to dry they would crack and
break during the weaving process. The basket maker would have spent a
large part of their day with their hands submerged in water. The constant
friction of the reeds against the weaver's palms and fingers would have
raised calluses on the person's skin, hardening the skin until their hands
were just as work roughened as the tribes warriors. The sharp edges of the
reeds would have also given the basket weaver's hands a variety of small
cuts, similar to paper cuts. The fingers of a good basket weaver would
have been very limber and agile.
The baskets the basket weaver made had to be durable, especially if the
basket weaver was a part of a plains tribe that was constantly on the move
following the buffalo herds to different grazing areas. The baskets this
type of tribes used were needed to carry food and valuables from one camp
to another. The baskets had to be durable to hold up to the rigorous
travel. Mended baskets were still usable but they weren't as good as the
ones that hadn't been repaired.
While the lodge tribes weren't as hard on their baskets as the plains
tribes, the baskets still had to be top quality. Lodge tribes used the
baskets for storage, food, and as water barrels. The baskets had to be
water tight and strong enough to discourage pests.
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By Linda Silvas - Author - Publisher - Artist and International Public
Speaker - Washington State
Nick Savage - Author and Web Designer - Texas
Creator of http://www.mamabearbabybear.com