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A Real Basket Case
If you’ve always admired the craftmanship of American Indian basketry, you can do something about it -- like start your own collection. It would be great if you could spends months in the Southwest, going from gallery to powwow to Indian Market, but most of us have to content ourselves with shopping for baskets online.
Fortunately, there are hundreds of online resources for those of us who Jones for baskets. Typcially, much of what you will find will be examples of Hopi, Navajo, Paiute, Apache and Tohono O’odham, because these tribes are still actively weaving.
Be careful to look at the fine print, as there are a number of sites retailing baskets that are non-Indian made. The most ironic fact is that many baskets sold in souvenir stores throughout the Southwest are made in India.
Antique baskets are coveted by many collectors and Len Wood’s Indian Territory has some extraordinary examples dating back to the late 1800s.
Twin Rocks Trading Post in Utah features Navajo as well as Tohono O’odham basketry.
Canyon Art showcases both Hopi and Navajo plaques and baskets.
Ray’s Indian Originals specializes in Pima, Apache and Hopi baskets.
Simply Baskets carries a very wide range of tribal basketry.
American Indian Art features the hand coiled and wrapped Navajo wedding baskets.
River Trading Post has authentic and spectacular examples of Hopi, Tulari, Yokuts, Apache, Tohono O’odham, Havasupai baskets and plaques.
And, of course, there is always a lot of basket action on eBay, but you better know what you are looking at and make some effort at due diligence, so you are certain of what you are buying.
Whether you buy over the internet or in person, don’t be shy about asking a lot of questions about the materials, the quality and the construction. Find out the name of the artist if you can, or at least a tribal affiliation. Don’t forget you are buying a piece of art, so any knowledge you can add makes it more valuable as a collectible.
Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.