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Object Record

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Catalog Number 2011.02.15
Object Name Cradle, Basket
Collection Dorothy Hill Cradleboard Collection
Description (Heather Martin 5/23/2016) This is a miniature baby carrier made with a wood frame and sun shade that holds a small doll. Following Farmer's classification, this cradle is designated as having a forked stick frame (Farmer 2013:18). The front of the frame is covered with horizontal shoots to create a platform for the baby to lay on. The frame is covered with hide, making it impossible to see how the horizontal sticks are attached to the frame. An additional strip of hide, used to secure the baby, is attached to these lateral strips and zig-zags down the carrier. On the back of the platform there is a vertical shoot that runs down the center and is lashed to the horizontal shoots. There is a scoop-shaped sunshade attached at the top of the carrier with four rows of plain twining in raffia. The slant of weft is up to the right. The start is likely to be the broad end due to the way that warps are reduced to narrow the shade. It is difficult to determine the start and finish end because each side is covered with hide. There are many areas in the twining rows that appear to be coated with a clear glue. At the widest point of the sunshade there is a band of blue diagonal lines bordered in plain twined white string. The blue lines are made using string that passes over a varying number of warps at a time and then wraps around the sticks that make up the sunshade supporting arch. The sides of the supporting arch are decorated with vertical zig-zags in raffia. The ends of this arch are also covered in hide and then tied to the carrier's frame with additional strips of hide. The broadest end of the sun shade is decorated with white and blue glass seed beads. At the center there are three dangling elements of blue and white beads, each with a cowry shell at the end. The doll in the carrier has "REGAL / MADE IN CANADA" stamped on the back of the head.

This baby carrier is typical of those made by Maidu cultures, which corroborates the information in the object record. The Maidu commonly made forked frame cradles with a platform made with horizontal shoots (Farmer 2013: 145; Shanks 2006:147).

(Don Hankins 10/27/2016) Miniature baby cradle. Frame looks like Ceanothus with sandbar willow ladder back. Hood is sandbar willow with cotton twine and raffia. Blue cotton twine on hood is in slash pattern (female?). Buckskin chamois edging on cradle with cotton twine lashing. Hood has blue and white beads with cowrie shell pendants. Doll in cradle is wrapped in faux fur. Maidu.

(Sue Campbell 5/2/2017) This is a very sweet little basket, it is so cute. It is a cradle basket. It has a doll wrapped in imitation rabbit skin. This has the oak fork on the bottom, and because the sides are wrapped with leather, I cannot tell if the top is folded over or if two separate parts are married together. A lot of times what they will do is take a chokecherry and make it the top and adhere it into the fork to make that curve on top. No, it's oak, so I think that they've brought it all the way over. It has what looks like gray willow going across to make the lattice going up, and they go pretty straight and they start getting a little bit off right here, but then they correct it when they get to the top, so the top is actually straight. So, the weaver was really good at making sure her sticks were straight as possible. This cradle has a deer hide. It's too old to smell if it has been smoked or whether this is a chemically-done hide, but it's a white deer hide. It has the deer hide all along the sides of the fork, for the lacing of the baby, and then on the hood. The hood has very fine willow sticks, and has the boy design, which is just what they call "chevron" going across. And, with this one they actually used willow or redbud, it looks like very fine stripped willow going across to keep the sticks on the hood together. This also has the deer hide going across the front of the hood and then it goes down and attaches to the sides of the hood, and it has blue and white beads. Not a lot of people remember but Maidus always had a hanging design on the front of the hood. This one has seashells, which would give you the status. A lot if the time they were looped, and that would tell you that was a Mountain Maidu basket, because I believe they were the only ones who actually did this looping. The design with the shells that come from the coast would show your wealth. So your baby could actually show other people wealth, so it's an outward way of saying, "See how wealthy I am? I have shells on my basket." The bottom also has the leather on the very backside of the hood. It's a very cute, with a little dolly in it. It has a lot of hanging leather on the backside, and that's very prominent. Sometimes they would use these to actually tie together to hang them on trees. If this was a true basket, these baskets would be pushed into the ground by the fork, and they would be tied up towards the trees so that the baby stands upward. The reason they would do that is so, laying down in case they bob it or something the baby could accidentally bend forward, and also the baby has eyesight where mommy is and what they're doing, and they're pretty content in there. They also learned to have visual learning skills. This is an early start of how we learn our skills by seeing where things are and what we do. Also, we lived with a lot of animals, mountain lions and stuff, so sometimes these babies would hang high in trees, and so the women could do the acorn gathering and maybe working on the acorns and other things like that. So, there's always a purpose.
Material wood, raffia, glass beads, hide, shell
Place of Origin northern California
Provenance Maidu (Heather Martin 5/23/2016)
Maidu (Original records)
Maidu (Don Hankins 10/27/2016)
Dimensions H-14 W-18 L-38 cm
Imagefile 004\20110215-3.JPG
Caption 2011.02.15 image showing the cradle from the top