Cherokee Traditions: From the Hands of our Elders
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Arts And Crafts: Chain and Serpent

Chain pattern
Serpent pattern
Chain and Serpent patterns

This rivercane planter basket was made by Edmund Youngbird. Both the design and form of this basket are adaptations of Cherokee traditions. The dominant motif is the Snake or Serpent design, with the "serpents" running diagonally across the base of the basket. This design might be an adaptation of Louisiana Chitamacha basketry. The upper third of the basket is marked with a Chain design. The design is a 20th century adaptation, but is a popular motif among Eastern Band Cherokee today. The interior of this basket has a cross brace to give strength to the bottom. Baskets were made as planters as part of the tourist trade, rather than for in-home use. What remains from tradition is the material, the single weave technique, and the coloration of the basket. Walnut hulls were used to dye the rivercane and to achieve the dark brown color. Traditionally Cherokee basket makers are women; Youngbird being one of the few male weavers. Born in 1922, Youngbird learned to weave rivercane baskets from his grandmother.


Cherokee Traditions:
A project of Hunter Library Digital Initiatives at Western Carolina University
Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual
Museum of the Cherokee Indian

With support from:
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