Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How My Research Started

shéiyi xaat kákgu

 I had to pick an object for the inspiration of this blog and for another project for one of my classes. We took a little field trip to the Arctic Studies, Smithsonian Institution in Anchorage, Alaska. Before we went, we  looked at the Smithsonian website and it had most of their displays online with descriptions of the objects. I knew I wanted to pick something from the Tlingit region, so I looked and I came across this basket and decided I wanted to research it. I have learned so much from the projects I have done with my object. Sometimes it was hard finding information but you just need to learn how to look in the right places.     


A weaver will use different types of weaving that depend on the use or design of the basket. Sometimes there are different types of weaving in one basket because of the design. Some weavers only know a few weaves and some know many weaves, it depends on what they were taught. The kind of weaving is very important when it comes to what the basket is actually going to be used for. If it is going to be used for holding oil or water the weave is going to be really tight, so the basket won’t have any holes in it. Every basket makers weave is different even if it is the same technique and no two baskets are the same because they are so complex.


Baskets come in all different kinds of shapes and sizes. The baskets were not just art, they were being used by the Tlingit people like I talked about my previous blog. Each basket was made for a purpose and was used in their daily lives. So some baskets have lids and some do not, some baskets are smaller than others, and even the weaving is different for each basket depending on the baskets purpose.  

The uses

The Tlingit did not use or understand the making of pottery and they did not have metal to use, so they would use spruce-root to make the baskets. The baskets were used for cooking kettles and for storing meat and berries. They were also used to gather things like berries, roots, and shellfish. Sometimes the baskets were woven so tight that people could even use then as cups like in the picture or even store liquids in the baskets.  


The roots needed to make the basket have to be young and tough roots. It also depends on the sizes of the roots if they would to be able to be use for weaving. There is so much that goes into gathering the root and you kind of have to have an idea of what kind of basket you are going to be making, like the size of it at least. As I have learned about the Tlingit spruce-root basket, I have found out how much goes into it and it is something that looks so simple but it takes many and many hours to make. Now I understand why it takes a few days just collecting the root for just one basket.  

The Origin

George T. Emmons. (1993). Basketry of the Tlingit and the Chilkat Blanket. Retrieved December 1, 2010.
The Tlingit stories and traditions say that at the beginning of the Tlingit world the clouds and sky were made up of sprits. There was a beautiful young women who was vain. One day she looked into the sun and he looked into her eye and kissed her. When his day full of working was over he turned into a man and married her. They had many children and lived a happy life together. One day she was on a walk and picked up some roots. Thoughtlessly she painted the roots and then twisted them together.  She unexpectedly made the painted roots into a small basket.