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Finding Aid for the California Indian Baskets, ca. 1800s-1900s
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Collection Details
 
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • History
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: California Indian Baskets
    Date (inclusive): ca. 1800s-1900s
    Collection number: n/a
    Collector: University of California, Los Angeles. Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Archaeology Collections Facility
    Extent: n/a
    Abstract: The UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History's collection includes baskets made by California American Indians in the 19th and early 20th century. The baskets represent works from the Panamint Shoshone (Timbisha Shoshone Tribe), a western division of the Shoshonean peoples, located east of the Sierra Divide in Central California; the Pomo Indians located on the Northern coast of California; the Shasta Indians located on the Oregon border of California; and the Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk tribes in Northwestern California.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Archaeology Collections Facility
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1549
    Language: English.

    History

    The UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History's collection includes baskets made by California American Indians in the 19th and early 20th century. The baskets represent works from the Panamint Shoshone (Timbisha Shoshone Tribe), a western division of the Shoshonean peoples, located east of the Sierra Divide in Central California; the Pomo Indians located on the Northern coast of California; the Shasta Indians located on the Oregon border of California; and the Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk tribes in Northwestern California.
    Native Californians made baskets traditionally for a variety of functional and ceremonial purposes. Most baskets in the Fowler Museum collections were made in the early to mid 20th century when basket-making became a significant source of income, for sale to tourists and collectors. Trading posts and hotel gift shops might have hundreds of baskets for sale at a time, without ever asking for the name of the maker. The unfortunate result is that it is now difficult or impossible to determine exact tribal affiliation of the maker, let alone the actual weaver's identity.
    The majority of the Fowler Museum's Native California basket collections were made by Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk peoples living in small villages in an area of Northwestern California bisected by the Trinity and Klamath Rivers. These baskets are intricately woven using twining and open twining techniques and "false embroidery." Basket types include: acorn bowls, women's ceremonial caps, men's work caps, storage and large burden baskets, and gift / trinket baskets. Bowls used for serving and eating acorn soup are watertight. The acorn bowl and ceremonial caps, though similar in design and size can be separated by one defining factor: the acorn bowl has a raised stitch around the middle made with bear grass. Trinket baskets were made for trade only to non-Indian peoples and served no functional purpose. Either California hazel, willow sticks, or pine root were used in the construction of the baskets. Willow or spruce roots served to weave the sticks together. Woodwardia, maidenhair fern (also known as black fern) dyed with alder root, elk horn, and bear grass provide color and design. Traditional designs represented include motifs such as: flint, obsidian blade, friendship, snake nose, snail's trail, God's Eye or Morning Star, and stacked wood. Due to the popular demand and exposure to new products over time weavers created new and innovative designs, such as borrowing designs from the linoleum flooring in their homes.
    Shasta Indians lived near Mount Shasta in Northern California. Their basketry is made of tule, dyed tule, bear grass, and cane with nettle or flax cord starts. Dyed porcupine quills, yarn, and glass beads may adorn the baskets. Twined baskets are their specialty. Traditional basket types include cooking baskets, storing baskets, ceremonial gift baskets, gambling trays, cone shaped burden baskets, and hats.
    The Pomo Indians were traditionally comprised of over seventy-two independent tribes living in Northern California along the Mendocino and Sonoma County coastal region. Their especially elaborate twined and coiled type baskets were made from sedge (white), redbud (red), willow sticks, and bulrush (black) were often adorned with feathers and clamshells. Among the Pomo, men as well as women wove baskets. The historic Shoshone Indians occupied territory in California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. The ancestors of the Panamint Shoshone, also known as the Timbisha Shoshone, came into their homeland in present day Death Valley, California over a thousand years ago. Men made bows and arrows and hunted bighorn sheep, rabbits, and lizards. Women harvested fruits, seed, and plants such as pinyon pine nuts and mesquite beans, and made baskets.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Indian baskets--North America.
    Basketwork.