Hopi Pueblo Basketry from Second and Third Mesas

June 15, 2021 until September 14, 2021


Hopi baskets are rich in beauty and cultural significance.  Like the pottery produced at First Mesa, the wicker baskets made at Third Mesa and the coiled ones made at Second Mesa celebrate their makers’ connection with the land.  Even today, these baskets are made using little more than plant materials and sunlight.  The creation of one basket requires countless hours of work and a great deal of knowledge.  Their significance to the Hopi people cannot be understated.  They are used as gifts, prizes, currency and—most significantly—a wide variety of ceremonial purposes.

“In particular, plaques play a central role during Hopi weddings.  Custom requires that the groom’s family makes gifts to the bride and her family.  These include foodstuffs and the bride’s wedding outfit— her specially woven robes, her dress, her cape, her belt, her wedding sash, her reed carrying case, and her white boots. The bride’s family is then obliged to ‘pay back’ the groom’s family for their gifts.  The bride, her female relatives, and friends all grind a vast amount of corn, bake piles of piki, and cook tubs of cornmeal pudding for this pay back.  The pay back also requires the gift of numerous baskets, many of which are heaped high with cornmeal.

“Three specific types of baskets are mandatory for the wedding pay back.  The first is the wedding plaque, or groom’s plaque, which is presented to the groom’s mother, laden with white cornmeal.  The groom is to keep this plaque until his death, when the plaque will convey him to the Other World.  On Second Mesa, the coiled groom’s plaque is restricted to the ‘natural’ colors of white, green, and black.  The design, typically a star or flower, must continue into the rim coil, and the rim coil must be left unfinished so that the groom does not meet an untimely death.  On Third Mesa, the wicker groom’s plaque. . . has a unique design that runs around its middle, symbolic of the linking, or ‘holding together,’ of the bride and groom.

“The second required basket is the sweet cornmeal plaque, which is also presented to the groom’s mother, but it is heaped with sweet, rather than white, cornmeal.  On Second Mesa, the sweet cornmeal plaque has the same colors and designs as the groom’s plaque, but is smaller, its design ends before the rim coil, and the rim is completely coiled to the end.  The third required basket is a piki tray piled high with piki.” [Finger & Finger, 2006:51-3]

We hope this explanation of the significance of these baskets to the Hopi will result in added appreciation for these works of art.  Their ceremonial functions and objects of art go hand in hand.

Adobe Gallery is pleased to present this selection of Hopi baskets from the collection of a gentleman from California.  This Special Exhibit will grow to include similar baskets from other collections.

View our other current and upcoming shows: