Posted 2 years ago
Just got this one today, it is a very old Native American Penobscot Sea Urchin Basket. This one is different from other ones I have seen or have in my collection, but the other Sea Urchin baskets I have are all different in one way or another. I like that they all have small differences because it shows the individuality of each Native American artist, how they wanted their work to look like. First, the lid does not have a round finial like the other ones I have seen or have in my collection, it has a braided one instead that is lifted up in the center. And, this one has two different types of weave in it, this is the only one I have ever seen that shows different weaves in the same basket. The top is braided sweet grass that was then woven into the larger Ash splints that come up from the bottom to make the base of the basket. Then, the middle is both tiny Ash splints and braided sweet grass interwoven together, and the bottom part is just the tiny Ash splints woven to the bottom.
The main splints were dyed with both green and pink colors, you can see it on the inside and the bottom and some on the lid. And Blue was used for the smaller splints that were woven around the lid and rim and bottom. And it looks like there may have even been a Pinkish/Mauve wash painted on the outside, because I see it on the lid and the braided sweet grass/top part of the basket. Most of it has faded or worn off but it is still noticeable to me. But mostly, the colors have faded into a wonderful brown patina that goes beautifully with the blue wraps that have kept their color for the most part. This is the best Urchin basket I have found to date, I hope to find many more of this type. The "Urchin" basket type is my favorite shape :)
Because this basket is so old, (probably 1899 or before) there is some damage. But not as much as I expected, some of the blue wrapping that goes around the rim is missing. This has caused the basket to go a bit out of round but only a little bit. And I found one of the tiny splints near the bottom that has broken, but it does not show. There are a couple places where the braids of sweet grass have split. But the other places where it looks like the splints have broken off, leaving a space is just how the weaver of this basket wanted it. They are woven under instead so it only looks like there is a missing piece in those spaces. Maybe the artist wanted to show a "on purpose" mistake here and there...a lesson that even the most beautiful things are not perfect. :)
Enjoy the pictures, hope you like this one.