WHAT THE BASKET MEANS TO THE INDIAN : Page 182
Figure 9. RARE POMA CEREMONIAL BASKET—Adorned with plumes of valley quail, wampum, shell, and feathers from the woodpecker's crown. MONO JAR. ALASKAN TREASURE BASKET—With
dollars to a private collector, and he possesses a masterpiece of art as truly as the connoisseur who invests thrice that sum in a piece of bronze or a painting. If the Indian woman reaped the profit of her toil, and not the frontier trader (who is a shark in far too many instances), there might be greater hope of preserving the native industries. As it is, they are perilously near becoming among the lost arts.
It would be interesting, if space permitted, to trace the influence of basketry on design in general, to show the necessary adoption of straight lines, geometric patterns, through the exigencies of wicker weaving. The Indian imitates what she sees about her; she is a silent, profound student of nature which she strives to copy; but in order that natural objects may come within the limitations of basketry—the principal medium of expression— every object has to be conventionalized, its form modified. The square-shouldered human figures, the angular beasts and birds depicted by the ancient Egyptians, are not very different from the Indian's attempts to reproduce these same forms on ceremonial dance baskets, granaries, and plaques, with uncompromising willow and grasses. Given more plastic material through which to express art ideals, the Indian potter evolved graceful scrolls and