Basketry Tray

About this object

History of use

Coiled basketry traditionally had many uses. It was used for storage of foods, medicines and personal belongings. Some baskets were used for cooking and boiling water, while others had more private uses. Haeberlin and Teit (1928) suggest that in the past not all women were basket makers, but that the skill became more widespread during the early and middle twentieth century when basketry was highly collectible and it became a source of income for many local First Nations women. Basket making declined after the 1950s, but it is still present in many Coast Salish communities and interest is growing.

Cultural context

basketry; storage

Specific techniques

Black cherry bark is obtained by dyeing the naturally red bark. In the past, basket makers buried the bark in a dark swampy soil with a high iron content in order to turn it black. Today, many basket makers submerge their bark in water with pieces of rusty metal, such as nails. However, some basket makers feel that this latter method may not be color fast and may stain adjacent materials over time.

Physical description

Simple coiled work, cedar root tray. Watch-spring base construction. Sides are seven coiled rows. Coiled work handles. Beaded and imbricated designs consist of six radiating stripes of two-and-a half diamond shapes in red cherry bark and grass or black dyed cherry bark and grass. In between these stripes, on the outer edge, there are six "z" shapes in red or black cherry bark. Sides are decorated with diamond shapes as well.