This exquisite Native American basket was made by the Yokuts people of central California. “Yokuts” means “People” and their communities included up to 60 separate tribes all speaking the same language. Pre-European contact, the Yokuts’ population was close to 50,000, but 3/4 died of malaria in an 1833 epidemic. This polychrome basket, made ca. 1900, measures 15” across and 6 ½” tall. Tightly-woven Yokuts baskets were originally quite plain, made for practical uses within the household. Highly-decorated examples, such as this one with its spirit figures, rattlesnake-patterned trim, and geometric triangles, soon evolved after “railroad tourism” hit California beginning in the 1890s and ornamented baskets brought higher prices.
Location: W1, Indigenous Cultures Gallery