Navajo Nation Ceremonial Basket with Spider Woman Cross Designs [SOLD]

C4644D-basket.jpg

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Weaver Unknown
  • Category: Bowls and Other Forms
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: sumac, willow
  • Size: 3” deep x 12” diameter
  • Item # C4644D
  • SOLD

This old Navajo ceremonial basket is of a fine weave. Each weft stitch was placed relatively close to the adjoining stitch. The foundation was composed of rods of similar diameter resulting in a basket of consistent weave. Navajo ceremonial baskets are constructed with a rod foundation of willow or sumac. The background or light color in the basket is natural sumac. The black and red were dyed. The black dye is derived from sumac leaves, twigs, and berries crushed and boiled with a powder made from melted piñon and roasted ocher. The red comes from boiled mountain mahogany roots to which are added ashes of twigs of juniper and powdered bark of black alder.

Diné baskets or Ts'aa' have many uses. They are used ceremonially to hold prayer sticks and medicine bundles, because it is taboo for ritual objects to touch the ground. They are important for Kinaalda' ceremonies, the coming-of-age ceremony for young women at puberty, where they are used to hold yucca suds for ritual baths and hair washing of the young woman. They are used in wedding ceremonies to hold corn pollen and food.

Ceremonial baskets are used in many ways. Often, the basket holds sacred cornmeal used during a healing ceremony or during the construction of a sand painting. Among the earliest designs placed on ceremonial baskets is that of Spider Woman Crosses. Navajo legend beliefs are that Spider Woman taught the Navajo how to weave. Placing Spider Woman Crosses on a basket is recognition of such and in honor of Spider Woman. Baskets with Spider Woman Crosses were witnessed by Washington Matthews in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Spider Woman Crosses are cruciform shapes with black squares at each of the eight corners of the cross. Earlier baskets featured crosses with outline form only. Later ones featured crosses with red interiors. This basket is most likely from the 1920s.


Condition: good condition with minor fading of the red dye, and a few missing stitches in the weave.

Provenance: this Navajo Nation Ceremonial Basket with Spider Woman Cross Designs is from a private collection

Recommended Reading: Navajo Ceremonial Baskets: Sacred Symbols, Sacred Space by Georgian Kennedy Simpson

TAGS: Southwest Indian BasketryDiné of the Navajo Nation

Alternate view of this Navajo basket.

 

Weaver Unknown
  • Category: Bowls and Other Forms
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: sumac, willow
  • Size: 3” deep x 12” diameter
  • Item # C4644D
  • SOLD

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