An introduction to Hopi Basketry


Last Updated: 3 years

Hopi basketmakers are some of the finest artists in this medium in North America. Today, while many Pueblo peoples no longer weave baskets, Hopi women continue a centuries-long tradition of basketry.

They are also innovative artists, developing new methods and designs from traditional ones.

Red, yellow, and black are the usual colors skillfully arranged to produce katsina, animal, blanket, and geometric designs.

The natural colors of plant materials used to construct the baskets serve as a background for the designs, constrasting with the vivid colors of commercial dyes.

The symbolism and tradition in Hopi basketry designs link each unique handmade basket to other parts of Hopi life, past and present.

In particular, basketry designs reflect aspects of Hopi religion and agriculture. For the Hopi, just as the basket’s fibers are woven together, so are all the pieces of Hopi culture: none is unrelated to another.

Although basketry does not appear as abundantly as pottery in the archaeological record, many pieces have been uncovered that suggest connections between Hopi and other cultures of the southwestern United States. Hisatsinom, Hohokam, and Mogollon cultures, pre-historic peoples of the Southwest, are likely influences upon the Hopi.

Coiled Hohokam and Mogollon baskets share similar construction with Hopi coiled baskets. These types of Hohokam, Mogollon, and Hopi baskets are woven by wrapping bundles of plant material with a single piece of plant fiber.

Other cultures of the Southwest use(d) rods instead of bundles, and today Pimans and Papagos along with Hopis are the only ones in the Southwest who still employ the bundled coiling method.

Hisatsinom are considered the ancestors of the Hopi. Not surprisingly then, Hisatsinom style basketry dating from A.D. 500 was handed down to the Hopi. In particular, the Hopi plaited ring basket is a part of an Hisatsinom-Pueblo tradition of uninterrupted basketmaking fifteen centuries old.