Southwestern Baskets in the Maryhill Museum (Photo Diary)

The Southwest Culture Area is a culturally diverse area. Geographically it covers all of Arizona and New Mexico and includes parts of Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Texas as well as parts of the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua. Much of this area is semi-arid; part of it is true desert (southern Arizona); and part of it has upland and mountain ranges which support conifers.

 photo P1090484_zpspsfdxwq2.jpg The shaded area on the map shown above shows the Southwest culture area.

Throughout North American, Indian people made many different kinds of baskets from the available native materials.

With regard to basketry in the American Southwest, Jerold Collings, in his chapter in Harmony by Hand: Art of the Southwest Indians, writes:

“In the Southwest, native Americans have been producing baskets in a variety of forms and with considerable technical diversity for at least the past eight thousand years. Rigid and semirigid containers, mats, and bags—all played an important role in their early attempts to cope with a strikingly beautiful but often harsh environment.”

The transition from tribal art in which baskets are made for use by tribal members, to ethnic art in which baskets are made for sale to non-tribal members took place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Arizona State Museum Assistant Curator Andrew Higgins, in an article in American Indian Art, writes:

“In the early 1900s, a tourist industry, spawned by railroad and automobile travel, and a nationwide basketry craze provided further impetus for Indian women to expand their basketry trade.”

Some of the Southwestern basketry on display in the Maryhill Museum of Art near Goldendale, Washington, is shown below.


According to the Museum display:

“Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Tohono O’odham (Papago) baskets are very similar. Akimel O’odham weaving was historically the finer and more intricate of the two. Tohono O’odham baskets have large, somewhat flattened coils and bolder, less detailed designs. Geometric patterns—particularly arrangements of concentric lines—frequently appear. Representations of human beings, deer and other animals are also common. Bowls and trays were historic forms but other shapes were created for sale to outsiders.”

 photo P1090518_zpspeb50at5.jpg  photo P1090519_zps8aiuyqgp.jpg  photo P1090520_zps4yszvsez.jpg  photo P1090521_zpstak1nwhl.jpg  photo P1090523_zpsvira7blz.jpg Shown above is a Tohono O’odham “wine” bowl which was used for holding tiswin, a tradition ceremonial alcoholic drink made from the fruit of the saguaro cactus.  photo P1090525_zpsk0wjpq2b.jpg The figures on the Tohono O’odham basket shown above are gathering the fruit of the saguaro cactus.  photo P1090527_zpsf1k1r1h0.jpg  photo P1090528_zpsvccng083.jpg  photo acbe7ef5-cb3c-4f60-acee-e6b64ca9b9d5_zpsrswak35r.jpg

The beaded baskets shown above are Akimel O’odham.

Navajo Wedding Baskets

Navajo marriage ceremonies used baskets in which the bride’s father would set out containing mush for the couple to eat. According to the Museum display:

“The woven design is symbolic, representing human life. Life starts at the center and moves through the rain, which is represented by black and red cloud bands. The outer white band represents the increase of the Navajo people. The break in the design—the ‘trail’ or ‘doorway’—was oriented to the east during ceremonial use.”

These baskets were often made by Southern Paiute or Ute weavers.

 photo P1090531_zpsfqmiqndw.jpg  photo P1090532_zpsiha8p2yz.jpg

Jicarilla Apache

The baskets shown below were made for sale to non-Indians. The elaborate looped rim and ring handles are an indication that the basket was made for the tourist trade.

 photo P1090536_zpsjplwsork.jpg  photo P1090537_zpsbalq2ocd.jpg

Mescalero Apache

According to the Museum display:

“Among the Mescalero Apaches, coiled baskets were usually made with a two-rod or a bundle of sumac, sewn with split yucca. The white background was made from bleached yucca, while the green or yellow elements were made from unbleached portions of the plant. Red-brown accents utilized yucca roots. Geometric patterns and star shapes are common design elements.”

 photo P1090545_zpsfdyvvbxc.jpg  photo P1090546_zpskgpfzhyt.jpg  photo P1090547_zpsdysxfhm9.jpg  photo P1090548_zpsndjqjjem.jpg

Western Apache

 photo P1090550_zpsz8cduajr.jpg The small burden basket on the left was made about 1900 and the one in the center was made in the late 1980s by Novena Cobb (San Carlos Apache).  photo P1090552_zpscr9e8lnt.jpg  photo P1090553_zpsqqtl6dhy.jpg  photo P1090554_zpsux3oa23w.jpg  photo P1090556_zpshalljoi2.jpg Shown above are water jars which have been coated with pitch. Water jars were generally twined from sumac or mulberry.  photo P1090559_zpsixfzvy1e.jpg The Western Apache basket in the shape of an olla shown above was made in the 1880s.  photo P1090560_zpsx7dhae2q.jpg  photo P1090561_zpsokaxkmp0.jpg  photo P1090562_zpsxd4f1h5n.jpg Maryhill MuseumThe entrance to the Maryhill Museum of Art is shown above.

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