Crude and Curious Inventions at the Centennial Exhibition
III. BASKETS AND BASKET WORK.
As soon as man became the owner of miscellaneous personal property, or lived upon other food than that obtained in the chase, he must needs have a basket. If must be a sterile country indeed that does not afford grass, rushes, willies, or pliable branches that may be interlaced in order to form a carrying receptacle. Some nations, chiefly in northern and southern regions, have the material for receptacles ready at hand in birch bark and plantain leaves respectively. Bark has numerous uses among tribes of limited acquirements, and in fact no better material is to be anywhere found on an emergency than the birch bark of Canada or the gum bark of Australia. A shelter, a canoe, a bucket, may be had at a few minutes’ notice. In other lands hark supplies fibre for all the uses of thread, cord, and mats; elsewhere it is beaten to make robes and wrappings of elegant appearance; in some countries it yields paper. The granary of the Badéma tribe on the Zambesi is a cylindrical vessel made of the hitter bark of a tree to which monkeys and mice have a great antipathy. The hark is cut from the tree by girdling in two places, making one longitudinal incision, and severing it from the trunk, it is then turned inside out to expose the bitter liber, is sewn into cylindrical shape, and buried in holes in the ground or hidden in clefts of the rocks, to protect it from predatory neighbors.
The art of weaving may be supposed to have commenced with wattling and basket-making, the former being used for huts, and the latter for carrying-vessels. A fair distinction between wattling and basket-making on the one hand and weaving on the other may be made by describing the former as consisting of interplaiting untwisted materials, such as willows, grass, or rushes, while weaving is done in a frame and with spun materials. In each case the rods or withes passing in one direction are interlaced by the wands or strips laid in the other direction, in and out; answering, when sufficiently open, to the celebrated Johnsonian definition, “reticulated or decussated, with interstices between the intersections.” The making of mats is, or may be, a modified form of weaving.
The wattle or hurdle is made by interweaving a row of parallel stakes with withes or wands, such as willow, hazel, elm, oak, or other straight and pliable saplings as may be convenient. Wattle and daub, as the phrase goes, was the house of the ancient Britons in the time of the Caesars, as it now is of the Kafirs. The descriptions by Diodorus Siculus and Strabo, and the representations upon the Antonine column, might stand for the kraals of the Basutos of South Africa. The houses of the Britons were of stakes wattled with withes and grass, daubed with clay, and with thatch of reeds and rushes; similarly, the Kafir drives half a dozen stakes into the ground, bends them over into dome shape, and weaves withes in and around; their fowl-houses are also wattled basket structures daubed with clay.
The same plan is followed in Africa for granaries. Grain of various kinds is the principal subsistence throughout the land. The Bechuana granary is a jar of plaited twigs wattled upon stakes thrust into the ground, and daubed inside. and out with clay. The bottom of the basket is some distance from the ground, and the bare portions of the stakes form supports like legs. The jars are six feet high and three in diameter. The Gani of Central Africa build a granary on a platform supported by a circle of Upright stones. The receptacle is a large cylinder of basket-work plastered with clay, and has a roof of bamboo thatched with grass.
Crossing the whole width of the Indian Ocean, Polynesia, and the Pacific, we find the same methods. The domeshaped granary of the Gila Punos of California is made of stakes bent over, wattled with straw anil rushes, and daubed with mud. The baskets, made of straw-rope sewed, are similar to the African, of which we shall speak presently, and are placed in these huts to hold the corn and wheat. Figure 193 shows the wattled osier basket of the McCloud and Hoopah Indians of California; and Figure 194 shows the structure more in detail. The basket is used for holding berries, salmon eggs, and other dainties, which are bruised up together and form a part of their winter store. The osiers are unpeeled and are bound two in a bunch, and then three where the basket contracts at the neck. The San Diego basket for storing acorns is four feet in diameter, and is made of wattled bunches of willow bands worked in spirally in an ingenious manner.
The same plan of wattling is found in the roasting trays of the Pi-Utes and Other Southwest tribes; the tray is made of wattled osiers, and is used in cooking grass seeds, grasshoppers, crickets, and various kinds of larvae The mode of using the tray is to put live coals along with grass seeds and insects into the tray and shake them up together. The osier wands are gathered together in a bunch to form the handle: the tray is also used in fanning grass seeds to remove the chaff. The acorn harvest and the grasshopper harvest are the two principal seasons of plenty and provision with some tribes of North American Indians.
Without baskets, what should people do who have no boards and no bricks ? From the Zambesi to the Nubian Nile, Africa is dotted with isolated elevated structures to bold store of grain. The hippopotamus - hunters of the Zambesi store their maize in baskets so large that they are plaited by men standing inside. The Wanyamuezi raise upon legs a structure of the shape of a haystack; or the threshed grain is made into bundles around a standing pole; or the package is suspended from the branch of a tree. The Dyoor (Upper Nile) granary is a bottle-shaped basket of wicker-work, six or seven feet high, inside the hut. It is daubed with clay on the outside to keep out the rats. The Kredy tribe (of the Upper Nile also) have large wicker baskets on platforms elevated so high that, four women may grind grain at as many stones beneath. These are arranged on the four sides of a central basin into which the grain falls. The thatched roof rests on posts, over all. The baskets of the Sehre tribe are of a goblet shape, with artistic moldings and a central pedestal.
Even the poor Andamaner has a basket, of wicker-work, which the woman carries on her hip.
For the purpose of the present series of articles Africa has been the most prolific of the continents of the world: nowhere else can the primitive conditions of mankind be so advantageously studied under different circumstances; not the most extreme variations, indeed, for Africa has no excessive cold, but still a wonderful variety, for the whole continent is savage in different degrees.
The basket-work of Africa is peculiar. While it cannot be said that no other type exists on the continent, nor that, the African type is found nowhere else, we find the established method of manufacture in examples from Central Africa, the Gold Coast, Angola, Mozambique, Orange Free State, and the Cape of Good Hope. A long roll of grass is made, the stalks being laid up straight and the bundle preserving an even size, being bound at intervals, so as to make a smooth round cord usually about half an inch in diameter. Sometimes this is merely bound to hold it in shape, but in other instances it is wrapped, or, as the sailors term it, served, with grass previously dyed in colors, red, yellow, and black, alternating with bands retaining the natural color. The basket is commenced at the bottom, as shown in the lower part of Figure 197, and the layers are tightly bound or sewed together as the coil proceeds round and round. The plaiting or binding material is grass, rattan, or roof fibre; the latter is used by the Basuto Kafirs, being obtained from the ficus capensis, — which is the ordinary thread of these people, except for sewing furs together to form karosses, when sinew is used. The Basuto basket (Figure 198) is one foot in diameter; the rolls of long, dry, and tough grass as the coiling proceeds are sewed very tightly with a flat grass binding. The grass is threaded through a needle with two eyes.
In this mode the typical basket-work is abandoned, and instead of laying down a skeleton of radiating ribs which stand as a warp, —the comparison may be allowed, — the ribs being subsequently interlaced with another set of wands or strands answering to the woof, the bundle of fibres is coiled around spirally and the basket is built up into the shape required, each coil being firmly bound or sewed to the preceding one, so tightly, indeed, that when completed and well wetted it will hold water perfectly.
When the colored wrapping of the bundle is so close as to hide the original color of the grass, the sewing of the coils is not prominent; but in some cases the binding of the coils is by colored grass laid over so closely that no other coloring is required, and this ornamentation is done in patterns showing considerable taste. In the case of the closest work of all, from the Orange Free State (Figures 199 and 200) nothing is sacrificed to show, and the vessels are of their natural grass color. Figure 199 shows the form of the Orange Free State ten - gallon water basket, and Figure 200 is a funnel made in like manner and used for filling the vessel. Besides the baskets and funnel shown in Figures 197—200, bowls, lids, mortars, and shields of various sizes are similarly made, thered, yellow, black, and white colors in variegation being the wrapping of the coil or the sewing by which the coil is built up. The baskets from the Gold Coast are from fifteen to twenty - four inches in diameter and from five to fourteen inches deep. The collection was made in the colony, and went from the Centennial to the ethnological collection of the British Museum; it was one of the most interesting in the Exhibition. The most perfect and largest baskets, however, were those from the Orange Free State, some being capable of containing ten gallons of water and holding full to the brim.
The ancient Egyptians made baskets and bags, netted, braided, plaited, wattled, and also of grass in rolls: some of their baskets were ornamented with cowries, much in the taste of the degraded Indians on our northern border, who ornament moccasins, pincushions, and toilet-mats with tawdry beads, bugles, and stained porcupine quills.
As has been stated above, the grassroll mode of basket-making is not exclusively African, but is also found among the New Zealanders and some of the California Indians, and has even been discovered among the remains of the Switzerland lake-dwellers. It is, as it has been found in such far-distant parts of the world and at periods some scores of centuries removed, a good illustration not alone of the power of circumstances and opportunities in molding methods, but also of persistence in methods acquired. It is not to be supposed, however, that the use, which to us seems singular, of baskets for containing water, beer, and milk is occasioned by the lack of materials or skill to make, vessels of wood or of clay. The Kafirs are skillful in making both of the latter, and this introduces another remarkable feature, which will be more particularly referred to and illustrated elsewhere, that both the wooden and earthenware jars of the Kafirs are made in imitation of the basket: the wooden vessel is carved on the outside with bands or moldings representing the coils of the basket; the earthenware vessel is made by building up what may be called a rope of clay, coil upon coil, which closely resembles the mode of making the basket; and the likeness is still more increased by markings with knife or thumb nail upon the plastic clay. So the basket may be assumed to be the original, and to afford another instance of the persistence of method even in ornamentation.
Baskets laid up by interweaving in the ordinary manner are also made watertight. The Kafir keeps his beer or milk in baskets: these are carefully made of grass, each row being beaten down with an instrument like a paper-knife. They are well soaked before being filled with liquid. Baskets in Zulu-land are made of grass stems and leaves, rushes, flags, reeds, bark, or osiers. Those made by natives of Lake Cilia, near the Nyassa country, are woven so closely as to hold beer, like those of the Kafirs one thousand miles distant. Those of the Pimo Indians of the Gila are made of willow twigs, and are so closely plaited as to be impervious to water; the large, basinshaped form is the most common. They are ornamented with black geometrical figures.
The granary of the Basutos of South Africa is an enormous basket made in the .typical African manner by coiling cylindrical intertwisted bands of grass around and around, preserving the shape required, and sewing each layer with a needle having an eye at either end. The granary has a dome top and is waterproof. These granaries contain maize principally; it is shelled by making a heap of ears on the floor of a but and pounding them with their knob kerries, the native club. Maize, an American plant, is now the staff of life to the Kafir; mush and milk form his principal diet. His beloved cows furnish occasional beef, but he kills them with reluctance. Millet, pumpkins, and imphee, allied to the sorghum, are also raised in Zulu-land. The use of corn is spreading over Africa, from the coast inward; in many regions it is not yet known. It is an important crop in Mediterranean countries; also at the Cape of Good Hope and the Orange River country, as we have said. Green ears and tlie meal of the ripe grain are highly esteemed on the Zambesi; Livingstone says it is there worth three cents per basket, but omits to state the capacity of the latter. Maize may be seen in all stages of growth, the year round, on the Zambesi. Corn is also grown in Ceylon, We learn from Bertolacci that in 1812 the Singhalese had not yet discovered that it could be made into bread, but roasted the grains.
Figure 201 is a trav-basket from Angola, of grass, and about eighteen inches in diameter. The body of the basket follows the African type in being made of rolls of grass laid up spirally. Variously colored grasses, principally black and white, are laid over in stripes.
The Australian basket is made after the same manner as the African, the grass or reeds being formed into a long bunch which is wrapped spirally, laid up in coils, and secured by strong fibrous threads of chewed bulrush root.
The baskets and trays of .Mesopotamia, shown in the Turkish exhibit in the Main Building, are made of coils in a similar manner to the African: Figures 202 and 203 are two examples. Mesopotamia, Persia, and the parts adjacent have been supplied with slaves from Africa by way of the Red Sea and Zanzibar for thousands of years past, and the typical African method may have been thus spread over Southwestern Asia.
Figure 204 is the meal-bag of Africa. It is of plaited grass with a covering of leathern strips and braided grass. The sling is of braided leathern cord, to suspend it from the shoulder or from the saddle of the camel. It has a leathern top, which makes it altogether about eighteen inches deep.
Grain of some kind is stored by all the natives of inhabitable Central Africa. Several sorts of granaries have been described in relation to their form and method as baskets, and several others, which are mainly of clay, will naturally be included in another article. Besides these mere receptacles they have some other modes of preservation: as, for instances, the Batoka tie up their maize in bundles of grass, plaster them with clay, and hide them in the sand of the low islands of the Zambesi; the Bawe, a Zambesi tribe also, swathe their grain in oblong grass parcels, and stack these in wooden frames; the Fans of the Gaboon pack pumpkin seeds in leaves and hang them in the smoke of their fires to ward off the attacks of insects: the seeds are boiled, the skins removed, the kernels macerated in oil and cooked.
The baskets of Madagascar might be expected to resemble those of the adjacent continent, but it seems to be otherwise. They are of rushes and grass, are in shape round or square, and generally have a cover. They appear to be made by plaiting in the material in what is technically known as basket-work, and not with spiral rolls sewed together, the prevailing African form. Malagasy industries and methods are more closely allied to the Malay than the African.
The granary baskets of the Gila Indians of California consist of wheaten straw ropes three inches thick, coiled up into vase shape, and sewed together in African style. The wheat or corn is stored in these granaries, which are capable of holding from ten to fifteen bushels each.
The baskets of the Makal Indians of Washington Territory are made from spruce roots split into fine fibres by being broken across the edge of a paddle and plaited. The small baskets are so tightly wrought that they will bold water, and are colored with chewed salmon eggs ground with bituminous coal or vermilion, for a black or red color respectively. Larger baskets, for carrying loads, are of a wedge shape, are plaited open and of spruce roots. Common baskets, for holding dried fish or blankets, are made of splits from the liber of the cedar. Figure 205 is a bone knife made from the rib of a whale and exhumed from a grave on Santa Barbara Island, off the coast of California. It is presumed to have been used in beating cedar bark to obtain fibre for baskets, mats, and cordage: the age of the graves is not known, and no natives survive who are able to help any hypothesis. The antiquity of the present processes is, however, distinctly indicated. Another basket of the Pacific coast is made of a species of dwarf cypress. The strands are woven so tightly as to hold water; a conical basket of this kind forms a water bowl, a vessel for grasshopper soup or acorn dough, or a cap. Food is even boiled in it.
A water-gourd sling from the South Australian exhibit is shown in Figure 206. It is a bag made of a fibre obtained by chewing the bulrush root to separate the filaments, which are rolled into a string between the hand and the thigh. The cord is then netted, being knotted at the intersections.
The Banyeti tribe of Africa also make baskets of the split roots of a certain tree.
The Bahama collection exhibited, like many others, the extensive use of the palm leaf in domestic life. The basket in Figure 207 is made of a wide plait of palm leaf sewed up with a thread of bark or grass. The basket is fourteen inches in diameter and the cord is a plaited tube of the same leaf.
The Uaupé Indians of Brazil use chests of plaited palm leaves to keep their feather ornaments in, and also make saucer-shaped baskets of palm leaf, much esteemed lower down on the Amazon.
The baskets of Fiji are plaited from the leaves of the dwarf pandanus (pandanus odoratissimus), from rushes, cocoanut leaves, sennit made from the coir of the cocoa-nut, from bamboo, and other of the abundant materials at hand. They are sometimes made double, and are occasionally edged with sennit of coir.
The baskets of the Dyaks of Borneo are made of the split leaf of the nipa palm, whose leaves are from fifteen to twenty feet in length. It grows in profusion by the water-side, and is the great necessity of the people for making baskets, mats, thatch, and sails. The strips for basket - making are about one twelfth of an inch wide, are stained in different colors, and are plaited in various geometrical patterns. The corners, as well as the top and bottom and the lid, are reinforced by strips of wood which are lashed to the basket with rattan, as with the Siamese basket (Figure 216) and several of the Chinese examples. These baskets have a combined strength and elasticity which wicker-work of osiers cannot command. The willow in any event is inferior in strength, toughness, and suppleness to the rattan, and fails as much in possessing the stiffness and strength of the bamboo strip.
The Shir women of the Upper Nile are skillful basket-makers, using the leaf of the doum-palm.
We have referred to several basketmaking materials, grouping them together and considering in turn bark, leaves, withes, willows, rushes, grass, straw, leathern strips, roots, and palm-leaf splits, and now come to the best materials of all, which are tropical productions, the rattan (Malay, rotan) and bamboo.
We may first dispose of a somewhat exceptional case, a bucket-shaped berry receptacle (Figure 208), which is made of split sections of cane (aurundinaria maczosperma) wattled together with strips of bark. It was made by a Yaquima Indian at Sonora, Mexico.
The Roman bee-hive (alveare) was of conoidal form, and made of strips of cork or stalks of fennel sewed together. Figure 211 is a rough affair, and very unlike Figure 209, which is an extremely light, bottle-shaped basket from Angola. The vertical splints of cane run throughout, and are plaited together to form the square bottom. The splints at the side are wattled with double thread, and they are plaited on the neck with circumferential splints. The basket is twenty inches high, and is evidently made by an ingenious African who had seen and admired some bottle imported by the Portuguese traders.
The scoops and trays of Angola are made from plaited bamboo strips. That shown in Figure 210 is ten inches wide, and the form agrees perfectly with the rice scoop of China shown in a previous article. Without absolute connection or acquaintance, there is a tendency among peoples having the same materials to use to run into the same forms, as we have previously had occasion to notice.
The Chinese and Japanese are very ingenious with rattan and bamboo, whole or split. The whole bamboo is used for very many purposes, but does not concern us here; the Splits are used for baskets. Rattan, whole or split, is the common material, however. Figure 211 is a basket of rattan coils, fastened with rattan splints, and in a frame of the same. The height is sixteen inches. Three baskets are superimposed in the frame, each being a cover to the one beneath it, and the upper one having a lid. They fit much more accurately than shown in the illustration, the trays having been purposely disarranged to show the lines of demarkation between them. They are used for carrying provisions or other things requiring separation.
Figure 212 has a bamboo frame bound with rattan and holding two baskets, each We have several times already had occasion to compare the appliances of ancient Europe with those of modern Asia and Africa, and to advert to the fact that while advanced civilization has introduced new tools and methods, those of the continents last named have practically remained stationary; the same is also true, in the main, of Europe on the Mediterranean. There are some things, however, made from material ready at hand and with but slight previous preparation, in which we may institute comparisons between ancient and modern Europe without finding much diversity. Take baskets, for instance: in neither variety of size, shape, nor material do the moderns greatly differ from or excel the ancients. The word “basket” is derived from the Welsh basgawd, which became the bascauda of the Romans and passed from the Latin into modern European languages, reappearing in Britain in its slightly modified form.
eighteen inches in diameter and eight inches deep. The baskets are made of wide strips of bamboo interlaced with finely split strips of the same, passing round and round and in and out of the flat pieces, which may be denominated the ribs.
Figure 213 is a Chinese basket made of thin bamboo splints in a frame of thicker and wider bamboo strips. The hinges consist each of a ring and two staples. A hasp in front lias a loop which coincides with two loops driven into the basket frame. It bolds about two bushels.
Figure 214 is a Siamese basket known to that curious people as ta kraang dauk pekun, — whatever that may mean, — and holds about three peeks. It is made with rattan rings and frame, plaited with split bamboo. The sides are made in four sections, and the square bottom forms another; these are very neatly sewn together, at the angles and to the frame, with strings of rattan.
The baskets of the Monbuttoo tribe of Central Africa are of rattan plaited. The Manganjas use split bamboo. The Bongos of the Upper Nile are remarkable for their attention to basket-work, using bamboos and leaves.
The seed golahs for storing indigo seed in Bengal are circular buildings of mat and bamboo, covered with a thickly thatched conical roof, the whole resting on a well-raised and arched foundation and floor of brick. The basket is universal in India, but a list of the kinds would not add materially to the previous statement.
The baskets of the Britons were imported into Rome and carried their name with them, but the language was already rich in technical terms belonging to certain kinds, sizes, and shapes of wickerwork. The œro was a sand basket of osiers or rushes, used by the Roman soldiers in making earth-works and excavating ditches. The scirpea was a large willow or withe basket which was placed on a cart (plaustrum) to carry produce or manure. The scirpicula was its diminutive, and was an agricultural basket for ordinary purposes. The corbis had quite a range of usefulness, and was acorn-shaped, with a bow handle. The corbis messoria was used for measuring grain in the ear, the heads (spicœ) being reaped with as little straw as convenient by means of a sickle called falx denticula, on account of its teeth. The name corbis had its diminutive corbula, which still survives amongst the Neapolitan peasantry in their bread-basket, la corbella. From corbis came also corbita, a grain vessel, which had a corbis at the mainmast head. From corbita we have corvette. The modius was the basket measure for threshed grain. Then there was the fiscus or fiscina, a large basket with a flat bottom and straight, slightly flaring sides, like a tumbler. It was made of brown or unpeeled osiers, and used for common work on a farm or in stores; its diminutive fiscella was a more delicate basket of smaller size.
Besides these there were flat, trayshaped baskets, the cophinus and canistrum ; a handsome, tall, open-work basket for ladies’ sewing, the calathus; a basket strainer of osiers, rushes, or bast, the colum; the cavea viminea or osier tray on which the Roman fullers exposed their cloth to the action of sulphur fumes; the corbis constricta or basket muzzle for horses when vicious, or to prevent their browsing the vines when plowing among them. We hardly possess as clearly definitive titles for the kinds of baskets in present use. The bisaccium was the double sack or pannier for throwing across the pack-saddle (clitellœ) of an animal. Now as of old time it is made of such material as comes handy: the Spanish broom (sparlium) so often referred to by Pliny; the osiers (salix vimenalis) which grew so abundantly on the river bottoms and in the wet places everywhere; the rushes and grasses of the same spots. Figure 215 shows Spanish panniers of plaited rushes. They are shown with the effect of packing upon them, but when in use the shape is modified by suspension across the back of the animal and the pressure of the contents. The pannier is also used in India upon the backs of oxen.
Allied by structure but divided by purpose is the battledore of the Indians of the plains, used in playing ball games. It has a frame of ash with interlaced deer sinews, more open in the meslies than those of their snow shoes. It is five feet long. This exceptional specimen brings before us similar structures for sleds, nets, hammocks, bags, and various other objects, but these will, some of them, be considered elsewhere if justified by the exhibits at the Centennial.
The Oriental hat is of basket-work. Shade and ventilation are the great needs, not warmth. The Chinese hat, for instance (Figure 217), is of bamboo splints, inside and out, inclosing leaves of the bamboo; the diameter of the brim is eighteen inches.
Figure 218 is a Siamese hat. — gnaup, in their language. It is eighteen inches in diameter, and is of plantain or bamboo leaf on a frame of rattan. The skeleton head-piece is lashed by rattan to the inside of the crown, and does not allow the head to touch the surface of the hat, thus securing perfect ventilation all round.
The Bornabi man of the Caroline Archipelago makes a sun-shade of leaves, which he ties around his head.
The Fiji turban consists of a delicate bark cloth (masi), perfectly white and six feet in length, fastened with a bow on the forehead or on top of the head. A water-proof cloak is made by them of a young banana leaf heated over a fire, which forms an elastic, thin, transparent garment, impervious to moisture and resembling oiled silk.
The hats of the Dyaks of Borneo are made from the gigantic leaves of the nipa palm, which grows in great abundance at the water’s edge and has been previously referred to. The conical hats of Borneo are plaited of narrow strips of rattan, stained red, yellow, and black. A head-band of plaited palm leaf, fastened inside the hat, slips over the bead.
The hat of the Bubes of Fernando Po is a flat, circular piece of wicker-work covered with monkey skin and used as a protection against tree snakes; the only additional dress is a closely fitting coat of palm-oil. The dress of the women is exactly the same, minus the hat.
Figure 219 is an umbrella hat of India, made of palm leaves laid upon a rattan frame. The hat is ornamented beneath with white paper, red cloth, mica, and green beetle-wing covers; also with pendants of mica and beads. The head-band is cylindrical, and is also of palm leaf with cloth binding. The brim is thirtysix inches in diameter, and bears the palm for size among Asiatic hats.
An umbrella hat (chápeng) worn by the common people of Java is of bamboo, dyed in various colors and varnished, and has the shape of a reversed wash bowl.
The East Indian hats (sola topee) are made of the pith of a marsh plant, the phool sola, or light sponge wood. They are of various forms: helmet, puddingcrown, wide-awake, etc., and are worn by army officers and gentlemen of the civil service, as well as by the opulent natives.
Passing by one step to Africa we find three hats represented. Figure 220 is one from the Gold Coast; it might easily be mistaken for a shield, viewing either the original or the illustration. It is made of coarse rushes plaited from the centre in the regular manner of the palmleaf hat. It is forty-two inches in diameter. In this instance the rushes are turned over on the edge and laid flat, but in another hat in the same collection a fringe of rushes is made by allowing one set to project all round, the other set being laid back and fastened.
The Egyptian collection in the Main Building fortunately contained a number of trophies brought from Central Africa by Colonel Long, in the service of the Khedive. Figure 221 shows a hat of Darfoor, of conical form, sixteen inches high and twenty-six inches in diameter. It is made of grass coiled in the African mode, the stalks being made up into rolls one quarter of an inch in diameter, and served, as the sailors say, with gay-colored dyed grass. The colors being laid on according to a scheme, tlie effect when laid up into a hat is to make a very showy head-dress.
Figure 222 is a hat from Senanr, also in the Egyptian collection. It is smaller and much flatter than the hat last shown, though made, in ihe same way. It is sixteen inches in diameter, and, as was remarked of Figure 220, it might easily be mistaken for a shield, and in fact might be used as one upon occasion against weapons at long range, though it would not stop one of the Bongo spears or Niam-niam trumbashes. The hat of the Niam-niams is cylindrical without any brim. The chieftain’s hat is made of skin; others, of plaited reeds.
Coming to America, we do not find much to remark; the savage people have abundant heads of hair, and prefer feathers to hats. Among the tribes which make baskets and bowls of grass and reeds, there exists a practice of using the same shallow basket-tray for mixing acorn dough, holding water, gathering berries, or covering the head. There were howls in plenty in the National Museum exhibit, but they do not differ materially from those already shown, and either of them might be a hat upon occasion. Conical hats are made by the Makah Indians of Cape Flattery, Washington Territory, from spruce roots split into fine fibres and plaited so closely as to resist water. They are colored black or red, with bituminous coal and vermilion respectively, the pigment being ground with chewed salmon eggs, which yield a glutinous substance that dries readily and is very durable. The designs are drawn with brushes made of chewed sticks or bunches of human hair.
The helmet-shaped hat of the Apache is of deer-skin, fitting closely to the head and covered on tlie top with a bunch of feathers. It is strangely like a Grecian helmet.
One more subject illustrating tlie art of plaiting, and we close this article. Figure 223 is a Trinidad fan of cane splints, so plaited that the natural yellow outside color of the cane is contrasted by alternation with the light color of the split side. The fan is twelve inches across the side. The sticks are bundles of the same splints.
The Uaupé Indians of Rio dos Uaupé in Brazil use plaited fans for blowing the fire and turning the mandioea cakes. The common palm-leaf fan of our country is made in the East and West Indies from a portion of the leaf and stalk, the leaf being bound on the edges with strips and thread. The Japanese fan is of bamboo and paper: a stalk of bamboo forms the handle, and is divided into a number of splints which are displayed in fan shape and fastened in position, while paper is applied on each side. The Chinese fan is a number of slips which are covered with paper, folding up in the familhir manner. Other nations make use of leaves simply. With the finer and ornate we have no special concern here.
The fan of sticks and cloth, to open and shut, is not strictly modern nor exclusively Chinese. It was used by the Romans; they also had round fans on handles, some made of lotus leaves, and others graceful or barbaric with peacock’s feathers and other materials. The Egyptian and Assyrian remains also exhibit gorgeous fans and fly brushes.
The fans of Fiji are made from the leaf of the dwarf pandanus, from coir, or from rushes, and display great taste in shape and texture.
Figures 224 and 225 are fans of Angola. The former is of plaited plantain leaf, and has a handle of wood plaited over with the same. Figure 225 has circular and radial strips of bamboo inclosing a thin mat of fine roots laid promiscuously.
The Gold Coast showed fans of goatskin with the hair on, and varying from eight to fifteen inches in diameter. Tlie handles are plaited with black and green leathern strips, and the fans themselves are ornamented with red and blue flannel patches and strips, sewed on with green leathern strings. Figure 226 shows a fan of this description.
The list, so far as the present article is concerned, terminates at this point. There are various other applications of plaiting, spinning, braiding, weaving, and netting, but these generally embrace operations upon a small fibre which is twisted into a yarn and then subjected to the processes which convert it into a cord, braid, or web.
These involve a different series of operations from basket-work, and will form the subject of some succeeding articles.
Edward H. Knight.