From Boston to the Bayou

Ok I PROMISE this is the last hey-by-the-way-did-I-mention-I-went-to-Boston post – but I HAVE to tell you about a brand new hero I have that I discovered on holiday.  As you know, I’m a bit loopy about basket making, and so Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology was top of my list for Boston attractions.  I wasn’t expecting the sheer SCALE of basketry exhibits, and the mind blowing skill displayed in the cases and galleries there.  Some of the most impressive, intricate and colourful work in the collection are the baskets made by Native American Clara Darden from Louisiana.

Rather than re-invent the wheel, I’ll let you read about her in the fantastic Harvard Magazine’s Biography of her, and take a look at the amazing photos I’ve shamelessly stolen from the internet, plus a few of my own below… (you can also check out my photos of the other baskets in the Peabody here!)

Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 2004.24.26766B. Darden preparing river-cane splints for weaving, c. 1900.

Clara passed away over 100 years ago, and there is a tombstone at her grave site near the reservation of the  Sovereign Nation of the Chitimacha about 2 hours west of New Orleans.  (Planning on New Orleans in October so I will definitely be making this detour!) It is there that her descendant John Paul Darden carries on the tradition of river cane basketry which archaeologists know has been going on in Louisiana since the 3rd millennium BC.   You can see him working here:

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