210118-17 Large Northwest Coast burden basket; Clam Basket (Kwakwaka'wakw) Kwakiutl
late 19th to early 20th century
14" x 19 1/2" x 21"
Traditionally an art practiced only by women, in the past baskets were made for a wide variety of domestic uses associated with the gathering, storing and cooking of different foods. Similar weaving techniques were also used to make cradles and hats for everyday and ceremonial uses.
Most basketry is traditionally woven from long, slender and pliant rootlets of cedar and sometimes spruce, although various grasses are used in some regions. A sharply pointed bone awl is used to split the rootlet into long strands for weaving and to bore a hole into which the stitch is inserted.
This is a rare example of a utilitarian basket that was, and in many respects still is, fully functional for gathering shellfish. Many baskets that can be found in collections worldwide today were produced for the tourist market in the 19th and 20th centuries.