Hopi Wedding Basket

When you look at this basket, you see change.

Baskets played in integral role in Hopi culture. Baskets originated out of a need for functionality and evolved over time to become incorporated into many rituals and therefore served a spiritual purpose in Hopi society. One example is the wedding ceremonial plaque. During the ceremony, the bride carries a flat basket piled high with a mound of white cornmeal to her mother-in-law’s house. The plaque is then given to the groom, who will keep it throughout his life. According to the ritual, when he dies, his spirit will sail to the Underworld on the plaque. After the wedding, the bride gives dozens of plaques heaping with cornmeal as repayment to the men of the groom’s family who wove the bride’s wedding clothes.

Baskets in the modern era serve as artifacts to understand Hopi culture through the different disciplines that influenced and were influenced by the art of basket making. We can clearly understand the role of women as basket makers in Hopi society and the important role of baskets in the ceremonies that all Hopi culutre revolved around.

In researching the history of baskets, we can see the shift in purpose that parallels the shift to an agricultural society. While still maintaining the practical use of baskets, their role evolved further into a ritualistic and spiritual presence in Hopi culture. We can also observe the shift that parallels the industrial revolution as baskets and containers became mass produced. In today's society, baskets serve as a window into the past as well as static, decorative pieces to be displayed in the house, or as  artifacts in a museum. While the object becomes antiquated and the purpose of the object shifts, it is never lost. 

By Hadley Reeves