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WHAT THE BASKET MEANS TO THE INDIAN : Page 172


(Courtesy of The American Museum of Natural History, New York)

The shapes of carrying baskets differ widely. Originally both food and water were doubtless carried in hollow gourds enclosed in netted twine to give additional strength, and a stick slipped through the meshes made their transportation easy. But in due time the basket evolved from netting, and the cone-shaped carrying-baskets made by certain Western tribes today are of exceedingly beautiful workmanship. The finely woven decorations represent in symbolic, conventionalized form those familiar natural objects so dear to the Indian heart—mountains, lakes, streams, trees, sea waves or water fowl, for example—objects with which the particular tribe has closest association. These are the subjects such as ever stir the Indian artist's imagination.

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