This is a traditional Navajo basket containing the traditional red, white, and black colors. It is made from an inner coil of sumac or cottonwood and has an outer coiling of split thin-leafed Yucca. The basket has changed from a clean white coloration to a more subtle reddish brown patina over a sixty-plus year span.
The main feature of any wedding basket is the pathway design, adapted from the Navajo creation story. The black design symbolizes the darkness (night) and clouds that bring the rain. The white part inside the black design represents the sacred mountains. The outside white area represents the dawn and is tied together with the outside rim which represents a person’s thoughts, prayers, and values. The red part within the black design represents the life giving rays of the sun, and is often called a rainbow. The basket has a pathway which leads out to the edge where the rim closes.
Antique Indian baskets are prized for their excellence, as well as their color, patina, and designs that may trace their origins back to the very dawn of Native American ancestry. This is a beautiful older traditional Navajo wedding basket in wonderful condition.
Condition: Original Condition: The colors are slightly faded as expected with age and wear; otherwise fine condition. The cotton fiber embedded at the center within the basket’s coils is still embedded with bits of blue corn meal.
Provenance: Purchased from Charlie Eagle Plume in Colorado in 1958 by my family.
Recommended Reading: Indian Baskets of the Southwest by Clara Lee Tanner.