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Burden Baskets
Apache Burden BasketThe burden basket of the Apache Tribe is one of the most quickly recognized items of material culture of the people. The baskets were once made for every day use in collecting or gathering wild foods, or to cultivate crops like corn. Large burden baskets were sometimes made for food storage. Today however, baskets are made to sell or for special use during the young girls puberty ceremony, or sunrise dance, as many call it today.

Burden baskets can come in any size, from a few inches to 3 feet high. The skills of basket making have been passed down from mother to daughter over many generations. Sadly though, it is a dying art form.

Apache baskets are made by weaving together various natural materials from the countryside. Devils claw, willow, yucca root and sometimes even cottonwood are woven around foundation rods collected from mulberry trees and other local vegetation. Darker colored plants are woven into the lighter material to make the designs. Cultural symbols, animals, human forms or butterflies are usually the designs on a basket. Other geometric forms that represent lighting or mountains are also used. Some design meanings have been lost in time, they are so old in origin.

Burden baskets are cone shaped, with flat or rounded bottoms. Buckskin and cone jingles made of tin are added to enhance the basket. Nearly all baskets will have a buckskin carry strap, which was once worn around the head or shoulders.

The baskets are a symbol of pride for the Apache people, because they are some of the most beautiful types of basketry in the world.