p'oth'es (Basketry Cradle)

About this object

History of use

Nlaka'pamux Elder Minnie Peters notes that baby baskets such as these ones were lined with shredded cedar bark. The holes in the back and at the base were to allow urine and excrement to fall out. Children first learned patience in such cradles. She recalls that after a baby was fed and cleaned in the morning it would be placed in its cradle. Cradles would be hung nearby the mother as she worked, perhaps on the branches of a tree. The baby would then stay quietly in its cradle until it was time for another feeding and changing. If a village were attacked by enemies the cradles would be hidden under nearby bushes and the babies would lie quietly until their mothers retrieved them. Sto:lo basket maker Wendy Ritchie notes that her husband told her that in the past lily pads would have been used to form a urinal for boys that would drain out through the hole at the bottom, and that lily pads were used as diapers for girls.

Cultural context

basketry; children

Iconographic meaning

This basket has the cluster of flies design on it. The rim is beaded in black which is a colour associated with baskets made for men and boys to use according to Sto:lo basket maker Rena Point Bolton. The use of black around the rim is to help the man or boy to be strong and powerful.

Physical description

Red and tan coiled cedar root basketry cradle. The rim is beaded in black cherry bark (1:1 ratio). The first four slat rows are beaded with four rows, the first in black cherry bark and the next three in cat-tail grass (2:1 ratio) over varying parts of the basket. Twelve small imbricated panels in one of two basic patterns. Simple interlocking coiled work (bifurcated stitches) with parallel slat construction and an overcast rim. There are three holes, one made at the shorter end and two side-by-side on the bottom.