Friday, August 21, 2015

Alaskan Baleen Basketry

When I travel I am always on the lookout for local basketry.  While recently visiting Alaska I was  looking for baskets made of cedar.  (This spring I took a class to learn to weave a basket with Alaskan red cedar strips.)  What I found were many more styles of Alaskan baskets by native artists.

In addition to admiring many beautiful baskets in the Doris Borhauer Basket Collection in Sitka, Alaska I learned about Baleen Basketry.

Baleen or "whale bone" is the tough keratin that comes from the mouth of plankton eating whales. Inupiaq native artisans adapted the traditional coiled willow-root basket style to form baleen baskets beginning in the early 1900's.  Artisans continue to create coiled baskets with this material.  Most black baleen baskets I saw in Alaska had a ivory circle base and a carved ivory decorative top to the lid. They were beautiful and skillfully made!


Check out the following website for more information on Baleen Baskets :

1 comment:

  1. I would love to have a baleen basket, but they are sooooooo expensive.