Wedding Basket

About this object

History of use

A label the collector, Anna Beecher, wrote for the basket reads: “Wedding basket. Made of sisal willow, filled with meal, pollen of larkspur, etc. The bride + groom each take a pinch. The rest is passed to the guests. Opening in the border pattern is to allow the evil spirit to escape. Navajo Indians – Arizona.”

Iconographic meaning

The centre of the basket represents the centre of the earth, from which the Diné (Navajo) people emerged into the world. The inner black band portrays the sacred mountains; the red band represents sunshine, and the outer black band symbolizes rain clouds and darkness. The band around the top represents the dawn, and the break in pattern is a path showing the way to the light. It is a convention of Diné wedding baskets that the end of the last coil is aligned with this pathway.

Specific techniques

The dye was made using red buds and black roots.

Physical description

Low walled, circular basket. Narrow at centre; sides flare-out towards rim. Coiled on two rods. Sunburst design near rim and near base.