Cherokee Market Basket Wood Handle
This handsome single-weave Cherokee basket was twill plaited of white oak splints circa 1960's. It's called a market basket; its uses included storing grain, catching fish and carrying food. Over the last century, weaving patterns have been named for the weave itself such as “over-two, under-two," which is the pattern used for this basket.
Cherokee dyes are natural, sourced from roots, bark, and leaves and controlled by the amount of time the splints spend in boiling water. The natural dyes tend to be fugitive, often fading faster than commercial dyes. The color of the oak splints has darkened over time, except for the dyed green weavers, which have faded on the outside but are more vivid on the inside of the basket. The colored splints form a large open "X" on each side of the basket, a large diamond on each end with smaller diamonds surrounding them. The diamonds pattern is a Cherokee favorite to use for twill plaiting.
Inner sides of the D-shaped splint handle are notched just below the hoop rim to provide extra support. The rim is vertically wrapped with strips of hickory bark. The top is oval, measuring 12 1/2 inches long by 8 1/4 inches wide. The bottom is rectangular, 11 inches long by 7 inches wide. The basket is 8 inches tall; it measures 13 inches tall to the top of the handle. It weighs 3/4 of a pound and has the original price of $1.35 penciled on a bottom splint.
Cherokee baskets are very sturdy; this one appears almost unused, with no breaks, missing pieces or visible wear. Made by a talented woman basket maker in North Carolina, the basket displays beautifully and will become a family heirloom.