basketry, art of weaving or coiling and sewing flexible materials to form vessels or other commodities. The materials used include twigs, roots, strips of hide, splints, osier willows, bamboo splits, cane or rattan, raffia, grasses, straw, and crepe paper. Discoveries in the W United States indicate that the use of clay-covered baskets for cooking probably led to making pottery, while in the Andaman Islands pottery was evidently made first. In Egypt baskets used for storing grain in 4000 or 5000 B.C. have been excavated. The tombs of Etruria have yielded ancient specimens, and these, as well as much later Roman baskets, display weaving strokes still in use. Basketry has been employed by primitive peoples for rude huts, which they daubed with clay, and for articles of dress and adornment, granaries, traps, boats, cooking utensils, water vessels, and other utilities. There are two types of baskets—woven and coiled or sewn—but variety is afforded by the many different strokes, forms, and methods of decoration. There are many large commercial basket-weaving establishments, but basketry is still a popular home industry and is taught in schools and as occupational therapy in hospitals.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.