Native American

Olla-Inspired Basket

Artist: Maggie Painter
Culture/People: Chemehuevi
Place: California, United States of America
Media:Willow, Juncus, Bullrush root and Devil’s Claw
Dims: 2.25 x 3.25 x 3.25 (5.7 x 8.2 x 8.2 cm)
Date: c. 1920-40
RTC No. NA0545
Gift of Ralph T. Coe, 2011


This Olla-inspired basket is woven together using vibrant hues from natural materials, creating butterfly motifs. Patterns like these are created by incorporating naturally occurring materials that can be found in a variety of colors into the basket as it is being woven.

The basket’s light tan color is split and peeled willow. Devil’s claw, a plant hook-shaped seed pods that grows in the southwest, or bullrush root, which was probably used to create the black designs. Juncus grass likely is the source of the caramel-colored elements of this basket. Although the skill involved in physically creating a basket are usually the first to come to mind, equally important is the knowledge of materials and how to prepare them.

This basket was created by Maggie Painter, a Chemehuevi artist who lived from 1898 to 1963. The Chemehuevi people are considered to be the most southern group of the Southern Paiute traditionally residing along the Colorado River in areas of what is now known as California, Arizona, and southern Nevada. The Chemehuevi Reservation is located on Lake Havasu along the Colorado River in California.

This basket was included in the exhibition Woven Relations: Baskets from the Ralph T. Coe Center Collection, which was on view from August 19 to December 19, 2014.

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