Katie Privett- Basket-making in Various Cultures

Cross-cultural Basket-making

Though the basket itself is a universal concept, its construction and uses vary across cultures, both past and present. For coiled baskets, many people use whatever plants grow in their area, such as reeds, bark or dried leaves.

Other cultures

Baskets were a significant part of many Native American tribes. Nativetech.org is a large Web site dedicated to Native American cultures. It gives a detailed explanation of how the materials used and types of stitching differ between tribes. It also highlights their ceremonial importance, such as in Navajo wedding baskets. The wedding basket used concentric circles of color to represent the journey through life and contained cornmeal eaten by the couple and their guests at a wedding ceremony.

It also gives tips for distinguishing Native American baskets from African baskets, with which they are often confused. Many African tribes use baskets for gathering and for holding medicine and food, among other things.

Tribalworks.com features items made by tribes around the world. They have a gallery of Australian Aboriginal baskets, many of which are coiled with natural fibers and then dyed. Aboriginal people traditionally make the baskets for gathering food, but they also make them to sell to others outside the community for profit.

The United States

In the U.S., there is a steady supply of people who make baskets for both commercial and personal purposes. Basketmakers.org is a huge Web site that functions as a storehouse of information for people who make baskets. It is especially helpful for commercial basket-makers because it functions as a sort of online community. It lists suppliers, vendors and business opportunities all over America, as well as news and scheduled events relevant to their audience. It also has patterns and tutorials available for people just starting out.