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A Brief History of Basket Weaving

Views: 246     Author: Bella     Publish Time: 2023-08-25      Origin: Site


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A Brief History of Basket Weaving

Few arts have a more extensive or worldwide history than basket weaving. Baskets were important to Neolithic hunters and gatherers even before ceramics. For both spiritual and aesthetic purposes, woven furniture and containers have gained importance in many cultures throughout the world during the past century. In many societies today, basketry is a valued and significant cultural practice. Numerous materials can be woven into containers with a wide range of shapes and sizes. Although basketry professionals have practiced their trade for decades, even beginners can find basket weaving enjoyable and approachable.

Explore the history of basketry by reading on.

An Early Account of Basket Weaving History

It is estimated that the first woven baskets were made around 25,000 BCE. At the historic Pavlov site in the Czech Republic, archaeologists found imprints of tightly woven material in Stone Age clay. The technology for basketry was well recognised, even though the precise application of the woven material is unknown. Neolithic sites in Kenya and the Middle East have yielded further early basket imprints and sometimes whole sections. The remaining parts have been dated using carbon dating, although it's likely that evidence of the earliest basketry has been lost due to natural weaving materials' deterioration.

The American West is home to a few well-preserved examples of historic basketry. Items made of woven materials from Washoe County, Nevada, date back ten to eleven thousand years. Chinese bamboo baskets dating back more than 7,000 years have been discovered outside of the United States.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of ancient cultures with basketry traditions, a cursory look reveals the craft's significance throughout history. Mayan codices, Renaissance art, and Roman mosaics all feature representations of baskets.

The affluent Egyptians adorned their tombs with woven furniture, while in daily life they used baskets to store food. You can still find wicker baskets in flooded bogs, which were a valuable export for Roman Britain made from willow branches. The styles and sizes of baskets used throughout the Roman Empire were incredibly diverse.

It is impossible to describe the vast and varied collection of old and historical baskets in its entirety. Materials and weaving techniques differed among cultures based on the specific demands and environment of each weaver. It can take years to acquire the talents necessary to make exquisite and functional baskets; many of these abilities have been handed down through the ancestors.

Weaving Baskets Today

Many civilizations still place a high value on basketry. For instance, American indigenous groups have long worked to maintain the art of basketry, frequently in the face of violence and cultural erasure. Native American artists working today, including Dawn Nicholas Walden, Brittany Britton, and Bernice Akamine, keep inventing amazing new ways to expand upon age-old techniques.

Rich basketry traditions are still practiced in several African nations. Many weavers have included recycled materials that aren't natural among the many different traditions. The Zulu people of South Africa create beautiful, vivid objects out of copper wire and colourfully coated telephone ines. Additionally, using traditional materials and techniques is still a significant aspect of art. Contemporary Zulu artist Beauty Nxgongo uses the traditional coil process to produce beautiful, flowing pieces, like this lidded basket in the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection.

In addition to other societies with vibrant contemporary weaving customs, Indonesian weavers persistently produce elaborately patterned rattan baskets. On the island of Borneo, the Dayak Desa, a subgroup of the Dayak people, make elaborate baskets that are called after their intended use. Although rattan, a vine that grows on trees, has been used for millennia, the supply is at risk due to deforestation. Initiatives established in Indonesia to save this vital resource will safeguard both the plant and Indonesian rattan basketry in the future.

Essential Methods and Materials

Bending a variety of natural fibres may create beautiful objects. Today's basket weavers employ a variety of natural materials, such as willow, sagebrush, bulrush, reeds, and grass, depending on the locality. To make baskets, synthetic materials such as metal, plastic, fabric, and more can be used. However, in the end, function and style will determine the materials used.

A basket can be made using any of the following seven recognised techniques: looping, knotting, plaiting, coiling, weaving, twining, and assembly. We'll touch on the four most popular ones in brief: coiling, plaiting, twining, and weaving.

Baskets made by Native Americans and Rwandan and Ugandan weavers also exhibit examples of coiling techniques. A continuous core of grass, rushes, or pine needles is used in this approach. A sinuous material, like raffia or tough grass, is used to sew the rounds of the coil together as this core is wound round and round.

Conversely, plaiting basketry is akin to braiding and involves the use of broader, frequently flat materials like yucca, palms, or wood strips dipped in water. Stakes in the basket are the vertical parts you weave between; the material woven horizontally (or diagonally, if you are skilled at it) is the same. Sometimes, this kind is called splint baskets. The weaver's method of plaiting can affect the outcome.

A skeleton of stakes is also used in twining basketry techniques to form the basket. The weavers are two distinct flexible materials (weaving strands), such as rope, branches, or bark. As the name implies, the two materials are alternately twisted throughout the weaving process to produce a rather tight weave in between the stakes. At each stake, the strands alternate, making them visible from the exterior of the vessel. The final and most basic technique involves weaving a single weaver strand alternately back and forth through the basket's stakes. Although this is probably how you learned it as a child, bending cane and willow branches—two natural materials—takes patience.

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