A TIME-HONORED CRAFT
Agriculture brought a need for containers to hold grain and food. Basketry was the perfect solution for Native American tribes and examples can be found as early as 50CE. Techniques and materials vary across tribes, including coiled, plaited, and twined techniques and materials such as beargrass, devil’s claw, sumac, willow, and yucca. Modern basketry is almost entirely decorative or ceremonial. Navajos still commonly use wedding baskets in their marriage ceremonies.
Through the use of both natural and dyed plant materials, basket weavers have created some of the most striking pieces of art that are first and foremost utilitarian. Although basketry has been around for centuries, it is widely agreed that it is one of the first Indian arts and crafts to die out in many tribes. Thus there is the choice of collecting old baskets by tribes no longer weaving, or supporting the art by finding a beautiful example by today's remaining weavers. Either way, due to the limited numbers of fine baskets, they continue to be a good investment.
Represented in our old basketry we have beautiful Apache and Pima trays and ollas, as well as unique pieces from other basket weaving tribes of the western United States. In contemporary basketry, we have fine Hopi, Navajo, Paiute, and Tohono O'odham (formerly known as Papago) works for sale. Whether collecting new or old baskets, one cannot help but gain an appreciation for this time-honored and labor intensive craft.