I have completely fallen in love with Makah and Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) baskets, so finely woven of bear grass with cedar bark rims, and frequently featuring figurative elements like this one, with a pair of figures in what I believe are whaling boats on either side. While this very little one-- I believe dating to the early 20th century--has some damage to the lid, the bottom half is in excellent condition and it remains a really lovely little piece. With its tiny, tight, precise little stitches, I find it completely wonder-inducing.
The Nuu-chah-nulth inhabit the west coast of Vancouver Island, while the Makah are located across the straight at Neah Bay, WA. Both made very similar baskets, and while I am certain this one was made by one or the other, I am not certain which. Using seasonal materials, these sorts of baskets were only produced when plants were at the right stage of maturation, demanding weavers to have a deep understanding of the plants’ cycles; when harvested correctly, the thin yet durable quality of bear grass allows for a minute arrangement of warp and weft, as displayed in this one.
The basket measures 2 1/2" in diameter and 1 7/8" tall. The lip of the base measures 2 1/2" across. Photos best portray the damage to the lid--the lip has come apart from the flat part of the lid on one side, as pictured. Otherwise, the basket is in very good condition.