H is for Hoopa Baskets

Helbing Collection A-Z is a continuing feature of our blog. Each week for 26 weeks, I will highlight an item or items from our Helbing Collection of Native American Arts and Crafts.

I am behind a week since we are busy getting ready for our “Used Art Sale” next week, but want to make sure you get to see our letter H items. The type of item most prominent in Cleora’s collection is Hoopa Baskets. She formed close friendships with several prominent Hoopa basket makers. I highlighted one of our Hoopa Cradle Baskets for letter B.

This basket is considered a “Fancy Basket” made as a work of art to sell. The black design is made with maiden hair fern, which would give a funny taste to any food prepared in this basket. Josephine Campbell was the maker of this basket.

Baskets that were used to prepare food used similar geometric designs, but the color patterns were created with other plant materials. The basket on the right is an example of a typical mush basket.

One of the main staples in the traditional Hoopa diet was acorns. They were gathered, dried and ground into flour. The flour was mixed with water in these baskets to create a mush. The much was heated with hot rocks. The rocks were placed into the fire, then transferred to the mush basket and stirred with a wooden paddle until the heat from the rocks warmed the mush. It was then served into smaller baskets for each member of the family.

These basket have a tight enough weave to hold liquid. They are woven with a double layer so that the pattern on the outside is not visible from the inside.

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