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Above the Fray: Traditional Hilltribe Art Basketry

Our Basketry & Tools Collection

While women are almost exclusively the textile weavers of the hill tribe cultures, men more often are the basket makers. Often the older men, by virtue of the less physically demanding requirements, can be found cutting the bamboo or rattan into long strips and then weaving the pliable green strips into a variety of basket shapes and sizes, including backpack and other carrying baskets, food and textile storage baskets, fishing creels, eel and fish traps, serving dishes, etc.

Once woven, most bamboo and rattan baskets are hung on the homes' rafters to cure in the hearth's smoke. The smoke both strengthens the material, granting it flexibility when dry, and makes it bug-proofs. The smoke also lends the baskets a warm, rich color.

Depending on the individual artist, the culture, and the baskets' purpose, baskets may be plain or decorative, large or small, loosely woven or tightly triple-layered. Pieces of wood are often woven onto the frame to lift the basket off the floor and create greater strength of form.

Village-crafted tools of the region include hand-forged knives, coconut scrapers, implements for weaving nets, spindles for spinning fibers, bamboo bells to tie around a water buffalo's neck, and a host of other devices to facilitate the tasks of daily life.

Above the Fray is always searching for excellent quality, used basketry and tools that show the luscious patina of real village use.

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