A Tohono O’odham hoh or basket is made from a coil of bear grass (Nolina microcarpa, called moho in their language) sewn with bleached white yucca (Yucca elata - tokway). Other materials used include green or yellow-green unbleached yucca, black from the seed pod of the devilsclaw plant (Proboscidea parviflora - eehuk) and on occasion, red from the root of the Spanish or Shin Dagger (Yucca arizonica, oh’eetock).
Edgar Lewis is about the only person left doing baling wire basketry. He does mostly figurative work and learned the technique from his father Peter Lewis (now 98 years old). I used to buy traditional wire baskets (mostly ones with handles) from Peter starting in the late 1970s. He taught a couple of other folks as well but those have passed on. The duck has a removable lid and is 17 inches long and 9.5 inches high. $130. (WE HAVE ONE IN SANTA FE AND ONE IN TUCSON)
The owl, with a removable head, was woven some 30-40 years ago. In very good condition, it stands 10 inches tall and is $350. (TUCSON)
The basket with the red and green snakes is by Mary Pablo - the only Tohono O'odham weaver I know of who will still weave snake patterns. 6.25 inches across. SOLD.(TUCSON) The star motif with coyote track around the perimeter is by Julia Lewis. 7 inches across and $110. (SANTA FE) The snake surrounding the desert tortoise is also the work of Mary Pablo. It has a raised center for the trutle shell and measures 10 inches across. $325. (TUCSON)
Miniature horsehair baskets: the one at left with a rattlesnake design is by Elena Mendez. She learned from her mother, Donna, from who I was fortunate to purchase many fine horsehair baskets over the years.1.75 inches across. $200. (SANTA FE) The one next to it is by Carmelita Juan. 1.5 inches cross. $15. SOLD The two turtles are by a relative newcomer: Rochelle Enos. The black turtle is just over 1.5 inches across and the lighter color one 1.75 inches. Each is $20. (TUCSON)
All three are by the husband and wife team of Fred and Della Cruz. The quail is 6.75 inches high and $85. The lady gathering saguaro fruit is also 6.75 inches tall and is $115. Th weaver sitting beneath the saguaro is 5.5 inches high and $110. (ALL IN TUCSON).
(click for larger images) Veronica Velasco, who daughter Rachel Enos made the two horsehair turtle baskets near the top of this page, wove this very nice Friendship Dance basket -and in a bowl shape. 4 by just over 1 inch deep. $400. (SANTA FE) The polychrome geometric is by Rachel Enos and measures 3 1/8 inches across. $90. (TUCSON) The double Friendship basket is 4.25 by .5 inches and $800. (SANTA FE)The butterfly basket is by Adeline Molina. 2.25 inches across and $150. (TUCSON)
A beautiful polychrome basket, 16.5 inches across with a double row of Friendship dancers and a rattlesnake motif (sans head and tail). $1400.
A split-stitch basket 11 inches across and 8 inches tall. $275. (TUCSON)
Two "pop-top" turtles (above and below)woven by Elaine Lewis of Sells, Arizona. The one at left is $68 and 6 by 4.5 inches. The one at right, with the more elaborate top is $75 and 6 by 4 inches. (BOTH IN SANTA FE)
Frances Manuel of San Pedro Village was the first weaver in modern times to revive this old style maze. This one was expertly woven by Delores Stevens. 11.5 inches across and $800. (TUCSON)
This split stitch duck is 8 by 6 inches and was woven by Phyliss Jones- another weaver with whom I've had the pleasure to work for a number of years. $125. (TUCSON)
A lovely combination five petal squash flower motif surrounded by a Friendship Dance woven by Marian Cruz. 10.5 by 2.5 inches. $975 (TUCSON)
A wonderfully woven split stitch duck basket, by my old friend, Barbara Juan. Barbara has been weaving for decades and is someone I consider a friend. She finished the head with stitching using the root of the yucca known as shin dagger. Just over 10 inches long and 5 inches high. $110. (TUCSON)
A good-sized vintage (20-30 years old) basket, 13 inches across and 5.25 inches high. $450. (TUCSON)
A very interesting design - probably representing a man in a ceremony waving sticks (crosses?) with long ribbons attached but a little girl looking at it flatly declared it is a "superhero with electricity coming out of his hands"....10 by 15.5 inches. $300. (TUCSON)
The small friendship dance basket is 6.25 inches across. $120. (TUCSON) The basket with 7 doves is 6.5 by .75 inches. $110 (TUCSON) The slightly larger one (7 inches across) with five doves is in Santa Fe. $110. The friendship dance basket at far righ is in Santa Fe and measures 5 3/8 by 1 inches. $75.
Three very fine maze pattern baskets. The first is by Marian Cruz. 8.75 by .75 inches. $350. Te next two are by Dorsi José. The first is 7.25 by 1 inch and $325. The next is 6 5/8 by .75 inches. $300.(ALL IN TUCSON)
The maze pattern design is generally believed to represent the path that I’itoi - Elder Brother - took to his home near the base of Baboquivari Peak in order to evade anyone who might follow him. Relatives of the Tohono O’odham, the Pima or Akimel O’odham (River People), are recorded as having said that it was the floor plan of a home built by Se-eh-ha to confound his enemies. More recently the story has evolved into the maze as symbolizing the path of life. There is some disagreement as to whether the figure is entering or leaving the maze. The version that has the figure entering, holds that the small ‘nook’ near the center is where one sits and reflects upon one’s life before completing the journey. Regardless of the version, the design lends itself nicely to the path-of-life interpretation as while it has no shortcuts, there are no dead-ends either, and the entire path must be followed in order to complete the journey.
A size and shape of basket that used to be called a waste paper basket - and it can still certainly be used that way. 8 by 8 inches.Circa 1960s. $425. (TUCSON)
Delores Stevens wove the turtle basket at left, which measures 9.5 inches across. $125. (TUCSON) A turtle surrounded by clouds.7.75 inches across. $110 (TUCSON) The desert tortoise who is clearly in motion - perhaps headed towards a fallen cactus fruit - is 6 3/8 inches across. $70 (SANTA FE) A spider in the midst of his/her web. 6 inches across and SOLD. (SANTA FE)
The unusual square split stitch is almost flat and was woven by Delores Stevens who, best known for the covered stitch baskets, opted for a change of pace. 11 inches square, it is priced at $110. (TUCSON) Many flying birds represent seabirds -including pelicans- that the powerful summer storms sometimes blow in from the Pacific Coast. 11.5 inches across and 3 inches deep. $220. (TUCSON)