Miniature Covered Basket 1920–1930
willow, devil's claw
1.625 x 4.75 x 3
Illinois State Museum Collection
Donated by John and Cathy Redfern
As the making of baskets was incorporated into the lifeways of early peoples, need, diligence, creativity, and curiosity were the driving forces behind innovation. Their significance can hardly be ignored. Notes author Jack Lenor Larsen in his book Interlacing: the Elemental Fabric:
"Plaiting in systemic rhythms to achieve a regularity of form demanded such a strong sense of discipline that the development of interlacing may be considered as a symbol of human triumph over the vagaries of nature and life itself. Creating the means of patterning and its imagery required ingenuity and control. Development of the finished basket rim and the [lid] were supreme technical feats. Each transition increased the complexity of structure and form. Intellectual acumen and manipulative skills grew in the process."
How long would it have been before a flat tray was placed atop a basket to create an informal lid? This basket demonstrates the height of refinement which one Native North American basketmaker attained. Note the highly refined surface, the careful fit, and the controlled proportional relationships of positive and negative space within the limited scale of the piece.