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Baskets Past and Present

Tlingit baskets


Baskets have been an important part of the Tlingit culture for an untold number of generations, and play a role in Tlingit spirituality and ceremonial life. Baskets have been used for a wide variety of purposes, and they are also highly regarded as works of art (though the Tlingit have many other forms of art as well, such as woodcarving).

Baskets of different sizes were made for different purposes. Larger baskets were part of the home, while smaller ones could be carried around or worn.

Perhaps the most basic type of basket is the cylindrical container basket, used to store food, clothing, and other items in the home. Large cylindrical baskets could be cut in half and made into cradles for babies.

Before the introduction of metal pots to the Tlingit, baskets were also used to cook food. The weaving of Tlingit baskets is often fine enough so that many of them were watertight. Hot stones would be dropped into cooking baskets with food and water inside.

(Image courtesy of Teri Rofkar)

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