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Basket Glossary Index

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Analine dye

a dye or coloring agent derived from coal tar products. Aniline is a major component in the preparation of such dyes, which were introduced to North American Indian peoples ca. 1870.

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the bottom of a basket. Bottoms can be flat or round. Rounded bases may be concave, convex, or pointed in contour.


a vessel or container, the structure of which is usually woven or sewed and consists of rigid or semi-rigid textile materials such as plant shoots, roots, stems, leaves, bark, grasses, and vines.


a general term that refers to both the process and techniques of basket making and the finished basket specimen. The three major techniques of basketry construction are coiling, twining, and plaiting. Basketry is constructed by interweaving or sewing two or more usually untwisted elements without the auxiliary aids such as looms.


a bunch or a number of grass shoots, plant stems, split leaves, or other fine materials used as a foundation in some coiled baskets.

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class of basket work in which a continuous spiraling foundation is lashed together by whipstitch-like sewing or binding. Coiled basketry can be constructed by spiraling the foundation material in either the clockwise or counterclockwise direction, thus producing a spiral structural configuration, or diaper, on the base of the basket and horizontal corrugations on the body or sides of the vessel. Variations in types of foundation and stitches exist.


or preservation, repair. The act of preserving or repairing basketry to prevent further loss, damage, or disrepair.


a person trained and formally certified in the best methods of preserving and repairing objects, such as baskets.

Culture area

a geographic region in which a number of distinct peoples live, all of whom share comparable but not identical culture traits.

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elements of ornamentation such as patterns and motifs that are organized or composed to create order and beauty. Line, shape, size, space, texture, color, balance, rhythm, and proportion contribute to the overall aesthetic effect of a design. Designs may be classified by type, field, layout and composition of patterns or motifs. Types or orientations of design range from naturalistic to representational and geometric to symbolic and abstract. Design field is the background or division of background upon which a design is placed. Layout is the arrangement of a design on the field.

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a semi-rigid element composed of filaments that is flexible enough to be used as a weaving element in the construction of basketry (e.g., beach grass, cattail stem or leaf, etc.).


the finished edge, selvage, or rim of a basket in which the warp elements are turned down, cut off, or bound in one of several ways: 1) clipped off, 2) self-edged, 3) bent at an angle and bound or interwoven, and 4) composite braided, plaited, twined, or coiled applied finish.


references three-dimensional shape. The form of a basket is limited only by the makers’ abilities and the nature of the structural materials. A basket can be deep with rounded, globular, or flaring side walls (such as a bowl or hat), or it can be flat or slightly concave (such as a plaque or tray). In addition, a basket my have a sharp or constricted shoulder (such as the bottleneck basket, olla or water bottle) A basket's function varies with changes in form.


the inner core or structure of a coil in coiled basketry. The three types of coiled foundation are: bundle, rod or splint, and rod-and-bundle. Bundle foundations are comprised of a number of grass stems or other fine materials which yield wide, flexible coils. Rod foundations can be in either stacked or vertical arrangements or in bunched or triangular arrangements. The former creates wide, flat coils while the latter results in narrow, stiff, solid coils. Rod-and-bundle foundations generally have a single rod in the center of a bundle of stems, which results in coils that are thinner and stiffer than the coils with a bundle foundation.

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a specific type of design in which regular lines, angles, and curves predominate, as in geometry. Geometric designs are a specific aspect of abstract designs which also include amorphous or free-form elements depicting natural shapes through exaggeration, simplification and recomvination. Most basket designs appear to be geometric, due to constraints of basket making techniques. But ethnographic and linguistic data often indicate that these designs are actually stylized or representational patterns and elements that depict objects in the natural world.

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the patterned spacing or distance between two warp elements. In plaiting or twining, this interval is described in terms of “over-one (warp element)/under-two (warp elements)”, etc.

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or basic element. The simplest design unit, consisting of a distinct dominant or recurrent element of design.

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Natural dye

any dye obtained from various plants, insects, minerals, etc. In general, a natural dye is any coloring agent that is not classified as a paint, a pigment, a coal tar derivative or an aniline dye.


design motifs hinging on the depiction of plants or animals or insects.

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or jar. A bottle-shaped basket, often used for storing seeds or holding water.

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residue of food or other material that results from native use or from age. Glaucous bloom is a whitish patina consisting of tiny particles of wax. It forms naturally on some reddish-brown basketry fibers such as young cherry bark or on the cuticle of other related vegetal fibers and will not harm the basket.


a planned, often repeating decorative design which usually can be broken down into more basic elements, or motifs.

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a specific type of design in which an object being portrayed is characterized or standardized by a likeness to the actual object, with no attempt at idealization. Similar to, but less realistic than, naturalistic design

Restricted Form

a basket form that tapers inward toward the rim or has a constriction such as a neck. An unrestricted form is flat or flares outward, as in basket plaques and trays and non-globular bowls.

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two-dimensional or flat outline or configuration of an object.


the individual whipped elements in coiled basketry that function to hold the coils of a basket together. Such weft stitches may be either closed (placed close together) or open (spaced apart), whole or split, interlocked or non-interlocked.

Storage basket

round or squared trunk-like container used for storing household possessions.


a specific type of design in which an object being portrayed is standardized with a motif that falls between naturalistic and representational. Stylized motifs, such as men on Southwest basketry, are often identical in form and manner of execution.

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Teec Nos Pos

or Circle of Cottonwoods, is located on the north side of the Carrizon Mountains, near the four corners area. Weavings here demonstrate strong Persian influence characterized by busy design motifs, largely geometric and multiple borders.

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any strand or fiber, usually of vegetal origin, that runs lengthwise or vertically in basketry. The warp element is usually more rigid and strong than are weft elements. Active weft and warp elements characterized plaited basketry (i.e., both weft and warp elements are active in the weaving process). Active weft and passive warp elements are typical of twined basketry.

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