Interested in Native American basket symbols? Want to know what each symbol on Native American baskets mean? Read our guide for the facts and info you require…
Although it may seem unusual to non-Natives, baskets were actually considered to be very powerful spiritual and cultural symbols. Over time the significance of baskets has died out but throughout history Native American basket symbols have been very important in the culture.
Basket weaving, as practiced by the Native Americans is one of the oldest surviving art forms of America. Archeologists say that the art form was developed around eight thousand years ago. There were many different kinds of basketry traditions that flourished amongst various Native American tribes. The weavers would make use of different materials depending upon availability and would develop different styles and shapes each having different meaning.
The Northeastern Native Americans would make baskets out of pounded ash splints as well as braided sweet grass. On the other hand the Cherokees would make use of bundled pine needles as well as rivercane wicker. On the Southwest side the baskets were made using tightly coiled simac as well as willow wood. The Northwest Coast Indians made their baskets by weaving cedar bark, spruce roots and swamp grass. Although the techniques and materials kept on changing with time the importance and symbolic significance of the Native Americans baskets remained.
Native American Baskets Uses
Baskets were obviously used for storage and cooking purposes as well. They were also used as baby cradles. However the Natives would weave special baskets that were to be used in sacred ceremonies and during prayer rituals. These kinds of baskets often had intricate designs and were made using complex techniques.
The art of basket weaving is not a means of showcasing skill rather it reveals a much deeper spiritual aspect for the Native Americans. The common understanding of Native American culture is that everything is connected with religious beliefs and hence basketry is no exception.
Native American Basket Symbolism
Most of the symbolism conducted on these baskets was organic in nature. They would feature abstracted or simplified drawing of various elements in nature. These are the images that had religious symbolic meanings. On the other hand the geometric designs were solely for aesthetic purposes and had no religious significance whatsoever.
The various patterns made on the baskets were also named. Some of the most popular Native American basket patterns include the leaf pattern, the tree pattern and the mountain pattern. Each group of basket weavers had their own secret techniques to making these baskets. These techniques were passed down generations and were kept as secrets not to be revealed to anyone outside the circle.
Amongst the various kinds of baskets produced by the Indians were Apache Burden Baskets that were used to carry things. Then you had the Cherokee Double Wall Baskets and Hopi baskets that have remained the same for hundreds of years. Pumo feather baskets were another symbolic creation that were believed to symbolize courage and peace.