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The Chettinad baskets of Tamil Nadu have intricate patterns woven out of date palm leaves and contemporary versions of these are available in vibrant colours.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