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Women plucking tea, Assam

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Traditional baskets used for tea plucking , Assam

 

I love natural fiber baskets all shapes, colors and sizes! In our home there is always a use for one, hence a greater excuse to buy them!

One of my earliest memories  is of  women heading out in full chatter to the tea plantations covered by the early morning mist,

to pluck tea with large bamboo basket , known as a Tukuris, in Assamese, balanced on their heads.

 

Basket weaving is wide spread among all human civilization. Natural materials like wood, grass and animal remains were used.

These decay naturally quite rapidly , hence its hard to tell when basketry first started. The oldest known baskets have been

carbon dated to between 10,000 and 12,000 years old, were discovered in Faiyum, in upper Egypt.

Traditionally baskets were used for a large number of activities.  The north east states of India have some of the most exquisite

examples of cane and bamboo baskets. These raw materials were used to make huts and bridges too.

Part of the clothes worn by some of the tribal folks like the Konyak tribe of Nagaland also used bamboo.

The head hunters of this tribe use to attach skulls on to their baskets as trophies.

Even now this region uses a lot of natural fiber baskets though the current examples are coarser .

 

 

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Open weave tall baskets used by hill folks in Northern India

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Jakoi, small fishing baskets used in Assam

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Knup, a traditional headgear worn by farmers for weather protection, Meghalaya

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Rice winnowing using a flat basket, India

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Kangri, a clay pot surrounded by a wicker basket that holds burning coal to keep the body warm , Kashmir

 

Fresh twigs from the willow trees are used by the Kashmiri basket weavers , to weave the small baskets that house the hot coal clay pots which

the locals carry around to keep themselves warm in winter.  Picnics were a very common activity in my childhood and we always carried

picnic baskets with us. These baskets were also woven by the Kashmiri basket weavers. Nowadays they weave presentation hampers that

a lot of retail stores use especially during Diwali.

Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and North Bihar use a tall grass that grows during the monsoon to weave intricate baskets.

The Chettinad baskets of Tamil Nadu have intricate patterns woven out of date palm leaves and contemporary versions of these are available in vibrant colours.

The flat weave baskets, mostly common in Bengal are used to winnow rice and if I shut my eyes , I can quite easily  recollect the sound

of the grain against the mat of the basket , almost to a beat.

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Large round basket used by street vendors, India

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Bridge and railing used in a Khasi village, Meghalaya

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Traditional chicken coop on stilts, Assam

 

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Basket weavers, South India

I have rounded up a  list of  places that stock  natural fiber basket in India –

Manjal, the craft store, Chennai.

The Ants store, Bangalore.

Konyak , Guwahati.

Fabindia.

North east emporiums.

Kashmiri  baskets are available at Crawford market in Mumbai and Russell market at Bangalore.

The weekly markets in the villages are a great source to collect the more ethnic pieces.

Image source & credit – the betterindia.com;makanaka files.wordpress.com;image.national geographic.com;trekearth.com;

c2.static flickr.com;dsource.in;incredible assam.org;panoramio.com;peasant autonomy.org;fairtradeteas.com;independent.co.uk

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Indigenous crafts of India

Basket case

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3 thoughts on “Basket case

  1. Hi, I’m a guest blogger at Curbed.com (architectural and design blog) and am doing a small post on the Kashmiri Kangri. I would like to use your last image in this post, if you could give me permission to do so, without any cost. I hope you get back to me asap.

    Thanks
    Komal

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