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Vintage Miniature Hopi Sifter Basket


A very rare old miniature Hopi sifter basket - I believe it was made about 1900. This is 3.5" in diameter and 1.5" high. Made from yucca leaves over a bent twig, the leaves are secured over the twig rim with a weaver of some type of dried grass. Materials are all natural, the red dye could be natural amaranth or sumac, the blue is a somewhat unusual color in a Hopi basket and could be made with a blue kidney bean dye, all these are natural dyes used in Hopi basketry. The yucca leaf naturally dries to a tan color. I have searched and found NO other vintage miniature Hopi sifter baskets - anywhere.

Hopi sifter baskets are made from the leaves of the yucca plant. They are used to sift agricultural products - separating grain from chaff for example. Sifter baskets are the only type of basket made on all three Hopi Mesas and are the oldest form of basketry made and used by the Hopi and their ancestors.

Vintage miniature Native American baskets are rare - Older baskets were made to perform a specific function and a miniature basket have no value as a useable object. Currently Native American miniature baskets are highly prized collector's items commanding the premium prices as it is recognized they require great skill to make so small and as much or more time as a larger piece. Despite the use for them being rather unclear, some early mini-baskets were made. Most of these were made as toys for children.

This piece was not made with the materials to "scale" - the twig rim is smaller and finer than a full scale sifter basket would have but the yucca leaf weavers are not. This basket could have been a toy or it may have been a practice piece made by a young basketmaker learning the skill. It would not have required as much yucca leaf to make and was perhaps made of scraps left from someone making a larger useable sifter basket. There are 2 pieces of cotton attached to it, a thicker piece on the rim and an thinner one opposite it a bit further down the basket side. When, by whom and why they were attached is unknown.

Whatever the reason for making it or the use for which it was made, it is a rare vintage piece in excellent condition except for some fading of inside/top of the basket

Vintage miniature Hopi sifter basket
Vintage miniature Hopi sifter basket - Side
Vintage miniature Hopi sifter basket - Bottom
Vintage miniature Hopi sifter basket - top w/dime
Weight: 8 oz