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Symmetry in Pacific Northwest Baskets

What is symmetry?


Many animals have bodies in which the right half is the mirror image of the left half. That is called "reflection symmetry." Some things have reflection symmetry between top and bottom. Footballs and soup cans, for example, have one shape that is the same for top and bottom, and a different shape that is the same for left and right.

Many Pacific Northwest basket designs display various forms of symmetry. The decorative design on the basket on the right displays reflection symmetry.

(Image scanned from Paul, Frances. 1944. Spruce Root Basketry of the Alaska Tlingit. Lawrence, Kansas: Haskell Press.)

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