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Catalog Number 2009.02.05a
Object Name Basket, Trinket
Other Name basket base
Collection Kathryn McCreary Artic Collection
Collector Jeanne Wentworth
Description (Heather Martin 6/13/16) This is a small coiled baleen basket with lid and ivory finial. The basket is started using an ivory disk with eyelets around the circumference used to attach the basketry elements. The first coil is created by sewing the weft through these eyelets while encompassing the first foundation piece. The basket is constructed using a single-rod foundation, with the rods being flat, or splint-like, around the starter and then rounded throughout the rest of the basket. The stitches are widely spaced and non-interlocking. The workface is the exterior and the work direction is to the left. The rim is plain wrapped and the coil ending is tapered. The weft at the coil ending is tucked beneath the previous two stitches to the interior. The splices are bound under. The lid is constructed in the same way, with the inverted finial as the starter piece. The lip of the lid is created by attaching two coils with splint foundations to the second-to-last coil of the lid. The ivory finial is in the shape of a wale fluke. The start disk is engraved with the name "James Omnik PHO," a weaver from Point Hope, Alaska, known for weaving baleen baskets with whale fluke finials.

According to Molly Lee, baleen baskets such as these were made only in Barrow, Point Hope, Wainwright, or Point Lay, Alaska beginning in 1915 (Lee 1983:38). The weavers of these baskets are Alaskan Inuit people. The name, James Omnik, on the bottom of the basket is may refer to James Omnik, Jr. or Sr., who were both from Point Hope. It may also be the case the "PHO" engraved on the bottom of the basket is an abbreviation of "Point Hope." Lee (1983) provided a list of museums and the number of baleen baskets in their collections. It should be noted that, aside from museum in Alaska and Seattle, only a select number of museums have small collections of baleen baskets. Even museums as noteworthy as the American Museum of Natural History, the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History, and the Peabody Museum have no baleen baskets in their collection, according to Lee (1983). Therefore, a basket of this type is a very significant piece in a relatively small university collection such as this one.
Material baleen, ivory
Place of Origin Point Hope, Alaska
Provenance Inuit (Heather Martin 6/13/16)
Dimensions H-58 W-97 L-55 cm
Imagefile 004\20090205a-2.JPG
Caption 2009.02.05 image showing the engraving on the ivory disk