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Coiled Ornamented Baskets

  • Basket, Raw Material (Rhus trilobata)

    anthroimages/medium/E21129_Rhus_trilobata.jpg

    (Cat. No. E21129)

    Basket, Raw Material (Rhus trilobata)
  • Large Basket Tray -- Ornamented

    anthroimages/medium/E21785-bottom.jpg

    (Cat. No. E21785)

    Large Basket Tray -- Ornamented
  • Large Basket Tray -- Ornamented

    anthroimages/medium/E21785-side2.jpg

    (Cat. No. E21785)

    Large Basket Tray -- Ornamented
  • Large Basket Tray -- Ornamented

    anthroimages/medium/E21785-top.jpg

    (Cat. No. E21785)

    Large Basket Tray -- Ornamented
  • Coiled basket bowl of the Cahuilla

    anthroimages/medium/E21786_Side.jpg

    The shading of the body materials in this basket is in places very dark. The zigzag ornament, effected by the administration of the triangle, is very attractive. Depth 5 ½ inches; width, 16 inches.. (Cat. No. E21786)

    Coiled basket bowl of the Cahuilla
  • Coiled basket bowl of the Cahuilla

    anthroimages/medium/E21786_Top.jpg

    The shading of the body materials in this basket is in places very dark. The zigzag ornament, effected by the administration of the triangle, is very attractive. Depth 5 ½ inches; width, 16 inches.. (Cat. No. E21786)

    Coiled basket bowl of the Cahuilla
  • Split rushes uncolored

    anthroimages/medium/E21788-Split_Rushes.jpg

    (Cat. No. E21788)

    Split rushes uncolored
  • Split rushed dyed black

    anthroimages/medium/E21789_rushes_dyed_black.jpg

    (Cat. No. E21789)

    Split rushed dyed black
  • Pumice stone used as a sharpener for 21790

    anthroimages/medium/E21791-Sharpener.jpg

    (Cat. No. E21791)

    Pumice stone used as a sharpener for 21790
  • Close up of basket bowl

    anthroimages/medium/21787_closeup.jpg

    Sketch of one inch of basket 21787, showing the method of stitching. (Cat. No. E21787a)

    Close up of basket bowl
  • Coiled basket bowl of the Cahuilla

    anthroimages/medium/E21787_Large_Basket_Tray_Coiled.jpg

    The coil is a bundle of yucca or other fiber, and the sewing is done with splints of different natural color, resembling reed cane, and with others dyed a beautiful chestnut and black. The lovely cloudy effects produced by the ingenious use of splints of different natural colors resemble those on the Moqui sacred bread trays. The fastening of is simple coil sewing. The ornamentation is a series of crosses arranged vertically, and four series of rhomboids inclosing [sic] triangles. The black line at the bottom, nearly continuous, encloses a circle in uniform unvarnished color. All the body color above this line is of a shining yellow, varying in shade.. (Cat. No. E21787)

    Coiled basket bowl of the Cahuilla

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A Set of Basket Materials
Palmer collected these coiled baskets, raw materials, and tools from the Cahuilla who occupied a region near Palm Springs, California. Palmer noted that these baskets illustrated a different mode of coloring and ornamenting" than he had previously observed. Cahuilla basketry varies widely and is bright and  bold. No model or pattern was ever used (Barrows 1967:43 in Anderson, 2005:188) for the designs.

The Cahuilla language and culture is nearly extinct. In 2000, fifteen individuals were considered to be the entirety of the Cahuilla community. Older adults speak the native language but younger Cahuilla speak English (Lewis, 2009).

Coiling is the primary technique used by Indigenous communities in Southern California. Coiling is more a sewing technique than a weaving technique in that it utilizes a foundation element which spirals outward. This coil is sewn to the preceding coil. As the coil begins, an awl is used, like a large needle, to pierce holes in the previous coil and pull the stitching through.

Cahuilla Basket Materials
The Cahuilla used a grass (Muhlenbergia rigens (Benth.) Hitch.) bundle with a rush (Juncus sp.) or willow (Salix sp.) as the primary sewing material, accented with sumac (Rhus trilobata )

Weavers used deer grass for its narrow diameter, length, rigidity, and ease of handling. The grass once grew abundantly throughout southern California. Cattle grazing and development have nearly driven it to extinction and it is now rare, growing only along roadsides.

Palmer collected raw materials used in basketry in addition to the baskets themselves. He described how sea-blite (Suaeda moquinii (Torr.) Greene) and indigo bush (Psorothamnus emoryi ) were used to dye the rushes used for stitching. Sea-blite was pounded and steeped for several hours to create penetrating black dye. He reported that the dark color was durable but it had a fetid smell. Indigo bush produced a bright, yellowish-brown dyeand emitted a strong rhue-like odor (Mason, 1904). Black hues were also produced by burying the rush in mineral-rich mud.

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