Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Down in the bayous of Louisiana, near Charenton, is the reservation belonging to an ancient tribe of Indians known as the Chitimacha. Contact with Europeans and their diseases had the usual tragic impact on their numbers and culture. But cultures are often remembered by their surviving artistic achievements, and the Chitimacha tradition of woven basketry is splendid. Because making these baskets is so labor-intensive, only a few still practice it.
The baskets are made of a local bamboo-like cane that is split with the teeth into fine strips. These are dyed black, red and yellow with other locally available bark and roots, and woven into complex, traditional patterns. Some are double-weave, and have an inner and outer pattern layer. The baskets are incredibly strong.
I almost never see them anymore, except in auction catalogs. Most of the photos here were lifted from old listings of the Neal Auction Co. in New Orleans.
I do love them.