(980911-06a) Tlingit Rattletop Basket
Lidded Tlingit basket with a rattletop lid., 1880
Cedar and Bear Grass
8 1/2 x 6 inches
Lidded basket with two primary zig zag bands on body; with minor restoration. Overall in excellent condition.
The Tlingit of southeast Alaska have produced some of the finest examples of two-strand twining; their spruce root baskets exhibit bold geometric designs in warm hues of red, orange, yellow, and brown. In spring and fall, women collected the young roots of the Sitka Spruce, a tradition shared by both men and women today. The bark is peeled from the roots, which are left to cure over the summer. Then they are split and ready for weaving. The baskets are decorated in false embroidery, in which bleached, and often dyed grass is wrapped around the weft; the pattern is visible only on the outside of the basket. Natural dyes were obtained from local materials such as huckleberry, sulphuric mud, moss, hemlock bark, and alder bark steeped in urine. Commercial aniline dyes were popular as early as 1890, marking the beginning of the tourist trade era.