Following last week's post as an introduction to baskets, this week we're focusing on the Mi'kmaq, their basketry techniques, Joleen's methodology of describing these baskets, as well as some helpful references.
|Mi'kmaq Sweet Grass Basket|
Describing the Baskets
Bottom: round, square or rectangular. Round bottoms sometimes have a “double-start bottom” if there are two sets of radiating bottom warps. Round basket centres may have tapered warps allowing initial wefts closer to centre.
Sides: straight; slightly flared; flared; rounded; or moulded (if a mould has been used).
Weaving techniques: checker-woven (weaving flat wefts with flat warps in an over 1/under 1
pattern); twill-woven (weaving
flat wefts over flat warps on a staggered over 2/under 1 pattern); hexagonal-woven
(using three sets of warps/wefts); braiding (finger-weaving flat or round
elements in a variety of numbers in many patterns).
|Mi'kmaq Fancy Basket with "periwinkle" "jikiji'j" weaving|
Shelburne County Museum
Fancy baskets may have a double woodsplint row of added raised decorative weave known collectively as “jikiji’j”. There are many patterns some of which have specific names: raised decorative “periwinkle” “jikiji’j” weave; raised decorative “porcupine” “jikiji’j” weave; raised decorative “thistle” weave; raised decorative “Castle Bay twist’ “jikiji’j” weave.
Handles: Overhand, round or D-shaped across basket opening, ends inserted into weaving; Side-handles inserted into weaving on opposite sides; Notched overhand and side-handles sometimes notched to fit over inner-rim wood hoop securing position; Hand-hold handles created by spaces left in the weaving on opposite sides; Swing-handles, round or D-shaped, riveted to outside of rim; Looped woodsplint or length of Sweet Grass braid handle often added to centre of fancy basket lid.
Rims: Fancy baskets rims reinforced with inner woodsplint or inner wood hoop and outer woodsplint or overlaid Sweet Grass all bound with woodsplint. Most basket rims are bound/lashed with one circle of binding. Record “double-bound” if the rim has been bound twice – hint – look for the resulting X’s. Heavy work basket rims may be nailed. Square and rectangular basket bottoms often have extra reinforcement of added woodsplint on opposite outer, and middle, rows to extend their lifetimes.
A Basketful of Cultural Change. National Museum of Man Mercury Series, Canadian Ethnology Service, Paper No. 22. Ottawa, The National Museums of Canada. 1975. (in NSM Library, Summer Street, Halifax)
Elitekey, Micmac Material Culture from 1600 to the Present. Ruth Holmes Whitehead. Halifax, Nova Scotia Museum 1980. . (in NSM Library, Summer Street, Halifax)
Mohawk Micmac Maliseet…and other Indian Souvenir Art from Victorian Canada. London, U.K. Exhibition catalogue. Canada House Cultural Centre Gallery, 3 July-13 August, 1985. (in NSM Library, Summer Street, Halifax)
Abenaki Basketry. Gaby Pelletier. National Museum of Man Mercury Series, Canadian Ethnology Service, Paper No. 85. Ottawa, The National Museums of Canada. Appendix A has many images of pages from dealer’s catalogues showing the baskets, trinkets with their sizes and prices. (in NSM Library, Summer Street, Halifax)
A Key into the Language of Woodsplint Baskets. Eds. Ann McMullen and Russell G. Handsman. Washington, Connecticut, American Indian Archaeological Institute, 1987. (in NSM Library, Summer Street, Halifax)
Our Lives in their Hands, Micmac Indian Basketmakers. Bunny McBride and Donald Sanipass. Thomastown, Maine, Tilbury House Publishers, 1990.
Micmac Quillwork. Ruth Holmes Whitehead. Halifax, Nova Scotia Museum, 1982. (in NSM Library, Summer Street, Halifax)
Older Ways, Traditional Nova Scotian craftsmen. Peter Barss with Joleen Gordon. Toronto, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1980. (Noel/Abraham Smith, Hantsport)
Handwoven Hats, A history of straw, wood and rush hats in Nova Scotia. Joleen Gordon. Halifax, Nova Scotia Museum, 1981.