The Haida and the Tlingit people of the northern Northwest Coast are renowned for their outstanding arts, among them elegant spruce-root basketry. Prized by non-Native collectors for more than a century, these finely woven creations are found in museums and private collections all over the world. Despite the continued popularity of these baskets, there is little published about them.
Sharon Busby examines the history and evolution of spruce-root basketry, starting with the archaeological evidence of baskets older than the Egyptian pyramids. She describes traditional uses and forms, as well as changes in style when basketry became part of the souvenir trade that developed in the late 1880s. She also describes the heroic efforts of 20th-century Haida and Tlingit teachers who kept the ancient traditions alive and the contemporary weavers who have revitalized the art.
Spruce-Root Basketry of the Haida and Tlingit provides the largest collection of color images of Haida and Tlingit baskets ever published, many of them for the first time. The skillful photography of Ron Reeder presents a visual history of spruce-root basketry from the 1850s to the present. He captures the lustrous patina of the old baskets made for traditional Native uses as well as the impressive variety of baskets made for sale in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Photographs also portrays the baskets made today by weavers who are a living part of a long tradition.
Historical photographs enhance the account of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and provide a visual counterpoint to the vibrant color images of the baskets today. Drawings by Margaret Davidson explain the complex weaving techniques used in these baskets for millennia. The combination of compelling images and informative text makes this book a welcome addition to the literature of basketry and Northwest Coast art for students, collectors, and admirers of this art form.