Hands of the Basket Weaver

Traditional Cherokee Basket Weaving

The craft the Cherokee people are most frequently known for throughout the world is basket weaving. This ancient tradition, passed down for generations, has now become a unique and exciting Native American art form. Baskets have been an integral part of Cherokee culture for thousands of years and are now a proud part of their prehistoric and modern history.   

Materials Used in Cherokee Basket Making

Cherokee baskets are traditionally made of locally harvested materials including river cane, white oak, and honeysuckle. In order to create darker colors, baskets were boiled with black walnut or bloodroot. They were also dyed naturally with yellowroot or butternut. Left in the natural color, river cane has a beautiful, rich yellow hue.

The Origins of Cherokee Basket-Weaving Patterns

The names of many ancient basket-weaving patterns have been lost over time, but in the last century, weaving patterns have been named for the weave itself such as “over-two, under-two.” There are two common methods of Cherokee weaving: single weave and double weave. A double-weave basket refers to a basket with two layers, one inside the other. Weaves were chosen based on the purpose of the basket.

The Uses of Cherokee Baskets

Baskets were made by the Cherokee people for a wide variety of reasons and purposes and in many unique shapes and sizes. Some basket styles featured beautifully crafted lids, handles, and accents. Some Cherokee basket weaves are even waterproof. Baskets used to catch fish, store grain, and carry food and water were often called market baskets. Other baskets were made for clothing storage, ceremonial use, and even games. Weavers have also been known to design specialty baskets like knitting baskets, sewing baskets, hanging baskets, and more.

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