Miniature Basketry Tray, c. 1930, Pima Nation, Arizona, willow, cattail, devil's claw, 2.25 x .5 inches, mint condition
Pima (Akimel O'Dham) are desert people who produced magnificent baskets with special characteristics. Their narrowly-coiled baskets were made of cattail or bear grass and were closely stitched with willow splints. The Pima Tribe believes their ancestors were the ancient "Hoo-hoogam" (Hohokam) meaning "those who have gone" or, the ancient ones.
The materials, which consist of willow shoots, cattails, and devil's claws, must be collected at the proper time of year and selected carefully. The materials must then be prepared by splitting, trimming and shaving to the proper thickness. Then they are soaked for a time allowing them to bend properly.
Pima basket weaving is difficult and very time-consuming. The core of the basket is started with a knot usually using the devils claw (a basket usually begins with a black center). The willow and devil's claw are weaved around the foundation (cattail) used for the white design and the devil's claw is used for the black design.