The History Of The Wicker Basket

Through the ages and across many cultures there has run a common thread, the wicker basket. Archaeologists have found evidence that wicker baskets were used in Pompeii and Ancient Greece, in Spain and Italy and by Native Americans long before the arrival of Christ. There is even a very compelling theory that explains how the Blue Stones at Stonehenge in Great Britain were moved from the quarry nearly 200 miles away with the use of large wicker baskets that were constructed around the stones to reduce friction and make them round, thus making them ‘rolling stones’.

In ancient Indian cultures wicker was used to make baskets and plaques, boats and houses, breast plates and hats. Warriors no longer battle rival tribes and homes are made of stucco and plaster, but the ancient art of weaving wicker to create symbols of power and wealth and prosperity for tribal rituals, and for tourists and collectors of Native American Art, remains.

For centuries wicker baskets have been used by people all over the world. To carry their seeds during planting season, to carry their crops during harvest season, to carry their children in their infancy, wicker has been used to carry not only things and people, but traditions as well.

The Hopi use sumac and rabbit brush woven to create wicker baskets for their ceremonial katsina (the beings that watch over the Hopi people) festivals for the basket dance and for use in other ceremonies to hold prayer sticks and prayer feathers. Asian cultures have used wicker baskets and mats to hold the instruments and offerings used in religious ceremonies.

Europeans have used wicker storage baskets and mats in their homes for centuries. In Ireland willow wicker work and stone were used to create huts called Crannogs, and in Europe wicker was used for cradles and floor mats as well as baskets and platters. In Africa and Asia woven wicker reed baskets have been used to carry babies on their mother’s backs while they toiled in the fields and rice paddies as well as for the large baskets used to carry and store the fruits of their labor.

What is now seen as a simple container for storage or as a decorative element in the home decor of today was once upon a time the only means of transporting and storing the goods and foods necessary to the survival of man. When looked at in that light the wicker basket doesn’t seem like such a simple accessory any more.

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