Wicker Basket by Unknown Artist - Deep Bowl
Native American basketry is
one of the earliest art forms. The Indians made them as utilitarian
pieces for storage, holding water and even cooking. Basketry even precedes pottery making.
Baskets used for cooking were lined with clay, and water vessels
were covered with pine pitch. Today basket making has developed
into a fine art, that few Native Americans continue to practice.
Where baskets were once a
common item among all tribes, the art has now disappeared among
many Native Americans, and the handful of weavers that continue
this ancient craft are few and far between. Hopi basket weavers are considered some of the best
in North America. They produce baskets in three different techniques.
On Second Mesa the Hopi weavers
specialize in Hopi Coil basketry. Hopi coiled baskets are woven
by wrapping bundles of plant material with a single piece of
plant material usually yucca. The colors are usually limited
to white, yellow, green, red and black. Designs you often find
on these beautiful baskets are Katsina, animals, blanket, and
On Third Mesa the Hopi weavers
specialize in wicker basketry. They make wicker plaques, cradles
and burden baskets by weaving flexible stems of local plants,
such as rabbit brush, scrub sumac and arroyo willow, over and
under stiffer support stems. There are many colors and designs
used in wicker plaques and baskets.
Women on all three mesas make
plaited sifter baskets. These baskets are made by plaiting yucca
fibers, either natural or dyes, to achieve many designs. Many
of the Hopi wickers, coils, and sifters are used for social or