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Object Record

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Catalog Number 2011.02.07
Object Name Cradle, Basket
Collection Dorothy Hill Cradleboard Collection
Description (Heather Martin 5/22/16) This is a baby carrier made with a wood frame and sun shade. 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 that are lashed to the frame with commercial string to create a platform for the baby to lay on. On top of this there is a strip of hide running down the lateral edges that is attached to the frame with smaller strips of hide. An additional strip of hide is attached to these lateral strips at alternating sides, zig-zagging down the carrier. This strip of hide is used to secure the baby in the carrier. In the center of the platform, beginning at the top of the horizontal shoots, there is a strip of hide that is doubled on itself and twined over two warps down the center of the carrier about half way, where the ends are tied together on the backside. There is a scoop-shaped sunshade attached at the top of the carrier that has eight bands, each consisting of two rows of diagonal twining. The slant of weft is up to the right. The start is likely to be the broad end based on 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 that is trimmed with pinking shears. 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 inward pointing chevrons that meet in the middle to from an "X." This band is made using green and blue yarn that passes over two warps at a time and then wraps around the sticks that make up the sunshade supporting arch. The sides of the supporting are decorated with single plain-twined rows and vertical "X" patterns. The ends of this arch are also covered in hide that is trimmed with pinking shears and then tied to the carrier's frame with additional strips of hide. The broadest end of the sun shade is decorated with dark and light blue glass seed beads.

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) Maidu cradle. Oak frame with scraped willow ladder back, lashed with cotton twine. Brain tanned ties. Hood is willow with split willow twining and yarn pattern. Blue beads accent trim.

(Sue Campbell 5/2/2017) This is a full sized baby cradle basket, and the interesting thing about this is that it's Mountain Maidu, but instead of using an oak fork they used a choke cherry fork. The choke cherry comes all the way up and attaches on the right side if you look at it from the back. Sometimes in my baskets I'll do an oak fork on the bottom and I'll do a choke cherry on the top, and splice it in on both sides. That can also be really close to the way Pit Rivers do it. This weaver decided to use all choke cherry because they probably found this beautiful fork and decided, "that's good, that's gotta be used." It is a winter basket, it has a lot of what we call the sugars from the willow, where the red showing on the gray willow sticks. They did a good job. At one point it started leaning to one side and the weaver actually corrected midway and got the sticks going straight again. It also has string that they used to attach the willow sticks going across the basket. The white string goes up both right and left sides all the way to the top in a pattern that they've done on both sides, where they've overlaid two and they'll pick up one. So, they've done a thing we call the "split stitch" going all the way up on both sides. It also uses a white deer hide to lace the baby in the basket and for the loops on the side to tie the baby down. I think this is a white hide that's been done in the fashion to make it look white. They do a lot of that over in Pyramid Lake. I don't think that this hood was made for this basket. This hood looks more of a Great Basin, or sometimes they call them Paiute basket hoods, because the leather on this hood is more of a tan and it looks a little older. It looks like maybe this hood came off another basket and was put on this one. There are scallops where they used pinking shears to split the leather that covers the ends of the eight ribs of the hood to do that really pretty design. Then they've sewn the light blue and the dark blue beads across the front part of the hood. That's not always a Maidu trait. That actually is more of a Paiute or Great Basin trait. The yarn that they used on the hood is blue and green and it is in the shapes of an arrow, so it is a boy hood. On the very bottom of the hood that attaches to the top of the cradle basket is a brown deer hide leather, which also has the scallops that are cut with the pinking shears, used to tie on to the hood. The hood is made with gray willow, and split willow is used as the twiner for the twining of the hood. They've gone five twines across before the design, and probably four twines past the design, going towards the top. My Aunt Lucy Lowry used to make these hoods and she was Paiute. They make them so rounded like a bowling ball, and this has got the same type of design, style, and shape. It's got this beautiful roundness to it, and it's a really nice hood. On the side, instead of zig-zagging the split willow down, it's more of a box-shape where they wrapped around the front of the rib and then twined across to the backside of the last rib stick and then wrapped around the rib stick and then twined straight across. The box shape goes all the way down on both sides of the hood rib that attaches down to the back of the cradle basket. On the very bottom is also a kind of a brownish colored deer hide. If you put a white on for lacing, but yet you have a different color of deer hide on the hood, then I think this hood was actually another hood for another basket that was put on here, either for sale or they just didn't have time to make the hood. The bottom looks like it was hurried or rushed because some of the sticks are not quite straight, some have big bulges, there's big gaps in it, some sticks are really smaller, and then there's these big sticks that make big lumps. There might've been a baby coming in the winter that needed a basket real quick or they wanted to sell this real quick and they found a hood to put on it.
Material chocke cherry, hide, string, yarn, glass beads
Place of Origin northern California
Provenance Maidu style (Heather Martin 5/22/16)
Maidu (Maggie Hill)
Maidu and Paiute (Sue Campbell 5/2/2017)
Dimensions H-26 W-34 L-80 cm
Imagefile 004\20110207-3.JPG
Caption 2011.02.07 image of the cradle from the top