p'oth'es qeste q'esi:tel (Basketry Cradle)

About this object

History of use

Basketry cradles are thought to be of relatively recent origin by some basketry experts, such as Andrea Laforet of the Canadian Museum of Civilization. They may first have appeared in the late 1800s or early 1900s. In the early to mid 20th century basket makers began expanding their reportoire of shapes and styles for collectors, and many new forms were seen including tea cups, tables, suitcases, and hand bags.


The weaving of this basketry has recently been attributed as possibly being made by Adele Peters of Chehalis. Joan Chapman was able to recognize this cradle as her mother's work based on the design on it, since it is one of the designs she inherited from her mother.

Cultural context

children; basketry; plant technology

Iconographic meaning

The design on this basket was identified as snake trails (identified by Sto:lo basket maker Rena Point Bolton).

Physical description

Coiled cedar root basketry cradle (part a) with slat foundation and sides. Cradle is rounded at the higher, wider proximal end and is tapered and narrow at the distal end. Fully beaded overcast rim. Remainder of the cradle is plain on the inside and decorated with beading and imbrication on the outside. Rim pattern has mainly canary grass with several repeats of alternating cherry bark and grass. There are seven side coiled rows. First two rows repeat a pattern of closely spaced grass chevrons alternating with wider spaced red or dark brown cherry bark chevrons. Rows three and four repeat above pattern in alternating areas. Rows five and six feature three vertical red cherry bark lines alternating with a darker diamond or x-shaped pattern. Row seven is undecorated. No foot. Plain coiled bottom. Tumpline or carrying strap (part b) with wool wefts and multiple element warps is weft-faced plain weave in a light white-brown and red zigzag pattern. On each end of the strap, there is a machine-stitched, hide backed strip of plaid material which has a shell button on the strap end and a button hole at the other. Each end is buttoned over a strip of hide which is tied on each side of the cradle just below the rim with small strips of hide. There is a small piece of cordage tied to one side.