(bk-0037) Old Navajo 16 Point Polychrome Basket



This Old Navajo 16 Point Polychrome Basket Is Our Oldest Navajo Basket. It Has A Great Patina

  • Old Navajo 16 Point Polychrome Basket
  • Lots of cornmeal is embedded in its coils, attesting to a lot of ceremonial use
  • It is a bit faded on the inside, but the design and colors are very clear on the back
  • There are four missing stitches but aren’t noticeable
  • The rim is beautifully and tightly braided
  • One can feel the former owner’s reverence for this particular basket
  • It is deeply dished
  • The Sipapu center opening is plugged with a strip of old cotton flour sacking.
  • On the back is a loop from which it can be hung
  • These Navajo Baskets are commonly called a Wedding Basket. But this is a misnomer applied by Anglos.
  • These baskets are used in all of the traditional Navajo ceremonies, including sand paintings.
  • They are still very much in demand and use today.
  • The basket is coiled with the usual materials being yucca, sumac and mountain mahogany
  • The basket reflects many Navajo life traditions and was said to have been given to the Dine people by White Shell Woman
  • There are elaborate interpretations of the design elements.
  • In some, the points on the basket may represent the six sacred mountains.
  • The center opening represents the beginning of the world.
  • This is the Sipapu, where Navajo people emerged into this world from a reed.
  • The spirit of the basket is believed to live here
  • The natural light color around the center represents the earth

  • The black represents the sacred mountains on which can be found water bowls.
  • Above these mountains are sometimes clouds of different colors.
  • White and black clouds represent rain being made.
  • A red circle next to the mountains signifies the suns rays needed for all things that grow
  • Another interpretation is that the inner black steps represent the underworld while the red band represents earth and life
  • Outer Black Steps represent the upper world.
  • Stepped black designs can represent mountains and boundaries to the Navajo land
  • The white can represent the dawn, the red, rays of the sun, and black, the clouds
  • Usual materials for Navajo baskets include sumac, yucca and mountain mahogany.
  • The rim of the basket is always a braided rim
  • The ending of the braided rim always faces the East.
  • This is where the pathway of the design is clear from the Sipapu opening to the Above World on the un-decorated rim.
  • This is so a medicine man working in a dark hogan can tell which direction the design of the basket and offerings are facing
  • On many of these baskets that have been used in ceremony, one will find blue corn meal embedded
  • While there are still many Navajo rug weavers on the reservation, basket making is fast disappearing.
  • Most of the baskets today are made by families in the Four Corners region.
  • This is because there are many taboos associated with collecting and preparing the materials as well as weaving these baskets.
  • Younger people today are not willing to be bound by these taboos
  • It is respectful when a basket is hung so have the opening facing the east
  • This basket is 12 3/4″ in diameter and concave 2 1/2″ high
  • Native American Baskets


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