Washo Great basin Large gathering basket A1240

This large Washo gathering basket is 8 tall x 22 wide. Has a small loss on one edge as shown but in remarkable intact condition.

Louisa Keyser is perhaps the best known of the Washoe weavers, but she was only one of many. Other notable artists include Sarah Jim Mayo, Scees Bryant Possock, Maggie Mayo James, Lena Frank Dick, and Lillie Frank James. Not only did these women create and execute their own designs, they also harvested and processed the materials necessary to produce baskets. The harvesting and processing of willow and other basketry materials is time intensive and is comparable to the work of other nineteenth and twentieth century artists who harvested and processed plants for canvases, paints, brushes, clays, and such to create their artistic products. This intimate involvement with materials gives native basket weaving an extra dimension of artistry—a weaver has to find good material, harvest and process it to create the basket, and she must excel at all those skills in order to create remarkable art.

The most common type of basket woven during this period of what has been called “fancy basketry” was the degikup, a spherical, non-utilitarian basket produced by the technique of coiling. The primary basketry material is willow (Salix spp.), which is used to create the rods (warp) and the threads (weft). Bracken fern (Pteris aquilinium) and red bud (Cercis occidentalis) are the two primary materials used for the red and black decorative elements; both are processed into thread, which is spliced into the willow threads to create patterns on the light willow background. The three-rod technique, the form used originally and predominantly by the weavers of this period for the degikup, uses three willow stems to form the coils, which are curved along the horizontal plane and then sewn together with thread to create vertical height. Later artists switched to a one-rod technique, which produces a basket of somewhat less sculptural depth. The one-rod technique is less difficult and time intensive to produce, although not easy or quick by any means. The switch in styles reflected a response to the demands of the market. Other responses to market demands included lidded baskets, beaded baskets, and occasional chemically-dyed willow.