This stunning Makah Northwest Coast Native American beargrass lidded basket, c.1920s, features a whale and canoe design, repeated twice around the perimeter of the basket. Makah baskets very similar to this one, featuring a plaited cedar bark base and rim with cedar bark strip, are featured in numerous museum collections of significant Native American objects.
The seasonal materials with which this basket was made are indigenous to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Such baskets were only produced at specific times of year, when plants were in the right stage of maturation. The thin yet durable quality of bear grass allowed for a minute arrangement of warp and weft.
Whaling scenes are frequently featured on Makah baskets and were reenacted in traditional Makah marriage proposal ceremonies: a canoe full of whalers, including the suitor, was carried atop the shoulders of other tribesmen to his mate! Exemplifying exquisite craft, this beautiful basket also carries the spiritual and historical significance of the whale to the Makah.
5.5ʺW × 5.5ʺD × 4ʺH. This basket is in very good condition, with no discoloration. There is slight slumping due to construction, age, and the fragility of the material.