Let's Talk...Imbricated Baskets March 23 2016

The first thing to note is that imbricated baskets in North America are unique to the lower Pacific Northwest and Cascades-Plateau regions, most notably from tribes like the Klickitat, Cowlitz, and Salish.

Imbrication is considered a decorative overlay technique that is seen on coiled baskets. Decorative organic materials, like strands of bear grass, horsetail root or the inner bark of the chokecherry plant, are caught under select stiches, binding the added material to the exterior surface of the basket. The weaver would then fold the decorative strand regularly back and forth on itself to create patterns on the outer surface of the basket. These imbricated patterns feature geometric designs or cultural motifs and would cover part or all, of the Basket’s surface.

Other notable things when looking for Imbricated baskets include that decorative materials were either left their natural color or dyed in tones of red, yellow, black or white, as well as the fact that the designs are not visible on the interior of the basket. The surface texture of an imbricated basket has been likened to rows of corn kernels or roof tiles.

Most Native arts are a tactile experience and imbricated baskets are a prime example of this. To see more examples of Imbricated baskets on our site, visit our American Indian Basket Collection.

If you wish to learn more about the tribes that made imbricated baskets we suggest picking up a copy of Indian Baskets by Sarah Peabody Turnbaugh and William A. Turnbaugh