Finding Aid for the California Indian Baskets, ca. 1800s-1900s

Processed by Fowler Museum staff; Machine-readable finding aid created by Caroline Cubé
UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History
Box 951549
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California 90095-1549
Phone: (415) 825-4361
Fax: (415) 206-7007
Email: office@arts.ucla.edu
URL: http://www.fmch.ucla.edu/
© 2006
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.


Descriptive Summary

Title: California Indian Baskets
Date (inclusive): ca. 1800s-1900s
Collection number: n/a
Collector: University of California, Los Angeles. Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Archaeology Collections Facility
Extent: n/a
Abstract: The UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History's collection includes baskets made by California American Indians in the 19th and early 20th century. The baskets represent works from the Panamint Shoshone (Timbisha Shoshone Tribe), a western division of the Shoshonean peoples, located east of the Sierra Divide in Central California; the Pomo Indians located on the Northern coast of California; the Shasta Indians located on the Oregon border of California; and the Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk tribes in Northwestern California.
Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Archaeology Collections Facility
Los Angeles, California 90095-1549
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Access to the archives collection is by appointment.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Registrar. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], California Indian Baskets, Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Archaeology Collections Facility, University of California, Los Angeles.

History

The UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History's collection includes baskets made by California American Indians in the 19th and early 20th century. The baskets represent works from the Panamint Shoshone (Timbisha Shoshone Tribe), a western division of the Shoshonean peoples, located east of the Sierra Divide in Central California; the Pomo Indians located on the Northern coast of California; the Shasta Indians located on the Oregon border of California; and the Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk tribes in Northwestern California.
Native Californians made baskets traditionally for a variety of functional and ceremonial purposes. Most baskets in the Fowler Museum collections were made in the early to mid 20th century when basket-making became a significant source of income, for sale to tourists and collectors. Trading posts and hotel gift shops might have hundreds of baskets for sale at a time, without ever asking for the name of the maker. The unfortunate result is that it is now difficult or impossible to determine exact tribal affiliation of the maker, let alone the actual weaver's identity.
The majority of the Fowler Museum's Native California basket collections were made by Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk peoples living in small villages in an area of Northwestern California bisected by the Trinity and Klamath Rivers. These baskets are intricately woven using twining and open twining techniques and "false embroidery." Basket types include: acorn bowls, women's ceremonial caps, men's work caps, storage and large burden baskets, and gift / trinket baskets. Bowls used for serving and eating acorn soup are watertight. The acorn bowl and ceremonial caps, though similar in design and size can be separated by one defining factor: the acorn bowl has a raised stitch around the middle made with bear grass. Trinket baskets were made for trade only to non-Indian peoples and served no functional purpose. Either California hazel, willow sticks, or pine root were used in the construction of the baskets. Willow or spruce roots served to weave the sticks together. Woodwardia, maidenhair fern (also known as black fern) dyed with alder root, elk horn, and bear grass provide color and design. Traditional designs represented include motifs such as: flint, obsidian blade, friendship, snake nose, snail's trail, God's Eye or Morning Star, and stacked wood. Due to the popular demand and exposure to new products over time weavers created new and innovative designs, such as borrowing designs from the linoleum flooring in their homes.
Shasta Indians lived near Mount Shasta in Northern California. Their basketry is made of tule, dyed tule, bear grass, and cane with nettle or flax cord starts. Dyed porcupine quills, yarn, and glass beads may adorn the baskets. Twined baskets are their specialty. Traditional basket types include cooking baskets, storing baskets, ceremonial gift baskets, gambling trays, cone shaped burden baskets, and hats.
The Pomo Indians were traditionally comprised of over seventy-two independent tribes living in Northern California along the Mendocino and Sonoma County coastal region. Their especially elaborate twined and coiled type baskets were made from sedge (white), redbud (red), willow sticks, and bulrush (black) were often adorned with feathers and clamshells. Among the Pomo, men as well as women wove baskets. The historic Shoshone Indians occupied territory in California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. The ancestors of the Panamint Shoshone, also known as the Timbisha Shoshone, came into their homeland in present day Death Valley, California over a thousand years ago. Men made bows and arrows and hunted bighorn sheep, rabbits, and lizards. Women harvested fruits, seed, and plants such as pinyon pine nuts and mesquite beans, and made baskets.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

Subjects

Indian baskets--North America.
Basketwork.


Container List

 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok storage basket 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: bear grass; willow or spruce root; maidenhair fern.
Design: obsidian.
This storage basket was probably made for sale. It is larger and sturdier than trinket baskets.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok cap 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: bear grass, spruce or willow roots; willow or hazel sticks; woodwardia fern dyed with alder roots.
Design: obsidian blade.
Worn as a ceremonial cap.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok storage basket 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: black fern; bear grass; spruce or willow roots.
Design: motif is known by two names, God's Eye or Morning Star.
This storage basket was probably made for sale. It is larger and sturdier than trinket baskets.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok trinket basket 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: maidenhair or black fern; woodwardia fern dyed with alder bark; bear grass; willow roots or hazel sticks.
Design: obsidian blade.
The elaborate decorative design indicates this is a trinket basket and probably made to be sold. Traditionally baskets this small were used to store tobacco.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok trinket basket 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: maidenhair or black fern; woodwardia fern dyed with alder bark; bear grass; willow roots or hazel sticks.
Design: obsidian blade.
The elaborate decorative design indicates this is a trinket basket and probably made to be sold. Traditionally baskets this small were used to store tobacco.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok woman's cap 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: bear grass, willow or hazel sticks; spruce or willlow roots; maidenhair fern.
Design: obsidian with worm's trail.
Worn as a ceremonial cap.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok cap 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: bear grass; maidenhair fern; willow root; willow or hazel sticks.
Design: snake nose and worm's trail.
Worn as a ceremonial cap.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok storage basket 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: bear grass, willow or hazel sticks; spruce or willow roots.
Design: Flint or obsidian.
This basket was probably made for sale as a storage basket. It is larger and sturdier than trinket baskets.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok basket 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: conifer root, woodwardia fern.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok basket 1959

 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok large lidded trinket basket 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: bear grass; spruce or willow root; willow or hazel sticks; maidenhair fern; woodwardia fern dyed with alder root.
Design: friendship.
The fact this basket has a lid and handles may indicate it is a large trinket basket & probably made for sale. It is the size of the traditional cooking basket.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok cap 19th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: bear grass; maidenhair fern; willow root; willow or hazel sticks.
Worn as a ceremonial cap.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok trinket basket 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: bear grass; woodwardia fern dyed with alder bark; spruce or willlow roots; willow or hazel sticks.
Design: not traditional, may be based on a linoleum floor design.
The elaborate decorative design indicates this is a trinket basket and was probably made to be sold.
 

Wiyot man's hat 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: spruce or willow root; willow or hazel sticks; bear grass.
Design: simple pattern without named motif.
The simple design patterns indicate this was worn as an everyday work cap.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok trinket basket 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: bear grass; maidenhair fern; spruce or willow roots.
Design: flint.
The elaborate decorative design indicates this is a trinket basket and was probably made to be sold. Traditional baskets this small wre used to store tobacco.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok trinket basket with lid 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: bear grass; spruce or willow roots; willow or hazel sticks.
Design: snake nose; unusual black "button" on bottom of basket is wrapped with maidenhair fern.
The elaborate decorative design and the lid, indicate this is a trinket basket and was probably made to be sold.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok cap 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: woodwardia fern dyed with alder bark; bear grass; maidenhair fern; spruce or willow roots.
Design: old obsidian blade.
Worn as a ceremonial cap.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok trinket basket 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: maidenhair fern; bear grass; hazel sticks; willow or spruce roots.
Design: stacked wood.
The elaborate decorative design indicates this is a trinket basket and was probably made to be sold.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok trinket basket 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: maidenhair fern; bear grass; spruce or willow roots; willow or hazel sticks.
Design: friendship.
The elaborate decorative design indicates this is a trinket basket and was probably made to be sold.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok cap 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: bear grass; woodwardia fern dyed with alder root; maidenhair fern.
Design: obsidian with worm's trail.
Worn as a ceremonial cap.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok acorn bowl 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: willow or hazel sticks; spruce roots; bear grass.
Design: friendship (triangular motif).
The raised decorative band around the circumference of the basket indicates it was made to be used as a food bowl to serve acorn mush.
 

Wiyot food basket 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: willow or hazel sticks; spruce root; bear grass.
Design: obsidian blade.
The raised decorative band around the circumference of the basket indicates it was made to be used as a food bowl to serve acorn mush.
 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok cooking basket 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: willow or hazel sticks; spruce roots; bear grass.
Design: adaptation of a design used on hats for little girls.
The raised decorative band around the circumference of the basket indicates it was made to be used as a food bowl to make acorn mush.
 

Pomo basket with feathers and shell beads undated

 

Pomo feathered headdress undated

 

Hupa, Karok, or Yurok trinket basket 19th - early 20th century

Scope and Content Note

Materials: maidenhair fern; woodwardia fern dyed with alder bark; bear grass; spruce or willow roots; willow or hazel sticks.
Design: elkhorn, raised decorative rim is not traditional.
The elaborate decorative design indicates this is a trinket basket and probably made to be sold. Traditional baskets this small were used to store tobacco.
 

Panamint Indian basket undated

 

Shasta basket undated

 

Pomo basket with shell beads undated

 

Pomo miniature basket undated

 

Pomo oval basket undated

 

Panamint Indian basket undated

 

Panamint rectangular basket undated