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Arts And Crafts: Eye of the Sacred Bird

Eye of the Sacred Bird pattern
Eye of the Sacred Bird pattern

This double weave lidded basket was made by Rowena Bradley, a third generation Cherokee basket weaver. Lidded baskets such as these were used to store foodstuffs and household goods. The double weave makes for a tight basket; some double weave baskets are even waterproof. This rectangular lidded basket is deeper than most; the basket and cover fit one inside the other. This basket was woven from rivercane that was dyed using walnut for the brown color and bloodroot for the orange diagonal bands running across the cover and base. Rivercane, walnut, and bloodroot are native plants of the region. The pattern in this basket is the Eye of the Sacred Bird, with the "eye" running diagonally from base to cover. The design is similar to rivercane basketry of the native Chitamachas (Chetimachas) of Louisiana. Maker, Rowena Bradley is the daughter of Henry and Nancy George Bradley, an accomplished basket weaver. Basketmaking was a family tradition; her father gathered rivercane and dug roots for dye materials. Born in 1922 in the Swimmer Branch Community of the Qualla Indian Boundary, as a child, Rowena learned to weave baskets by watching her mother. Later, her mother taught her the complex double weave technique.


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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