Native American basketry is one of the oldest American art forms. Ancient Indian baskets discovered in the American southwest, have been dated back as far as 8,000 years. Yet many of the most collectible Native American baskets are from much more recent times.
Very early Indian basketry was fairly simple in shape and design with use of native fiber and grasses woven or braided with beads and feathers for functional use. Native tribes had specific styles and techniques, usually based on available materials. In the Northeast, Indian baskets were often made of ash wood or sweet grass, where Southeastern tribes, like the Cherokee, used pine needles and cane. In the Southwest, tribes used spruce root and cedar, while tribes of the North such as the Ojibwa used the plentiful birch wood.
By the late 1800s the shapes and sizes of Native American baskets were starting to evolve. Euro-Americans began to discover these lovely works of art and the popularity of Native American basketry was beginning to grow. As early as 1891, American collectors were acquiring Native American basketry and this excitement and demand fueled new creativity within Native American artist community. Tribes began to explore new designs, shapes and colors and were turning what was once a practical piece into new, intricate and beautiful works of arts.
Various regions and tribes became noted for their particular style of basket. Pomo baskets, Hopi baskets, Apache Ollas and baskets made by the Panamint tribe were widely becoming recognized, as this niche of Native American art began to grow.
Although these new works of basketry art gained in popularity, traditional Native basketry continued to be highly sought after during this period. Still today, the original artistry and style unique to various tribes remains apparent.
Fighting Bear Antiques is pleased to offer an ongoing gallery of native American basketry. Please let us know if you see something of interest and we will be happy to assist you.