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Basket with Lid

Culture Nuu-chah-nulth ((Nootka))
Culture Makah
Title Basket with Lid
Date Early 20th century
Medium Grass and dye
Dimensions Object: 2 1/8 × 3 7/8 in. (5.4 × 9.8 cm)
Overall: 2 1/8 x 3 7/8 in. (5.4 x 9.8 cm)
Credit Line Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 73.19.8

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About this Work

The Nuu-chah-nulth are a First Nations peoples of British Columbia, Canada. Between the late 18th century and the 1970s they were referred to by outsiders as the Nootka, a name that came from a misunderstanding with the British explorer James Cook. Cook also believed that the Nuu-chah-nulth were one nation, when in fact they were several communities with shared traditions. Today there are 14 Nuu-chah-nulth communities.

Whaling, was historically a practice of great importance to the Nuu-chah-nulth, as it was to other First Nations. The presence of a whale on this basket is therefore not surprising. However, even with the importance of whales within the community they only began to appear on baskets in the 20th century. This helps experts to date this basket as earlier examples were almost entirely geometric in their designs.

It is possible that this basket was made for the tourist market. The Nuu-chah-nulth began making baskets for the tourist market in the 1860s and miniature baskets, such as this example, were extremely popular by the 1930s.

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

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"Basket with Lid | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.