Princeton University Art Museum Acquires Historic, Record-breaking Native American Basket

Wutoni (Tina Charlie), Opo (basket)

Nearly two feet wide, the rotund opo, or basket, boasts a tight weave of willow shoots, roots and redbud carefully configured to form variegated geometric motifs.

The work, crafted in the late 1920s by the Mono Lake Paiute artist Wutoni, won first prize in a 1929 basket-making competition held at Yosemite, and in 2005 set a new auction record for a Native American basket. Now, it has found a home at the Princeton University Art Museum, which has acquired it from a private collector, the institution announced today (15 February).

The basket is of interest to the museum because it has a clearly definable provenance, which is rare for baskets made by Native Americans in the Yosemite. Larger and more complex than those typically produced in the region, it is also an exceptionally well-preserved example of what are known as “fancy baskets”—an elaborate style of weaving developed by Native artists to cater to European Americans.

Read more at Princeton University Historic Native-American Basket

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