Our Kenten (pronounced ken-ˈtān) backpack is woven from wild date palm. The artisan harvests these palm fronds, pulling apart the stringy threads, braiding them into ropes that are then dried in the sun. The stem of the woody palm is used as ribbing and runs vertical in the weaving process. The artisan weaves the braided fronds through the ribbed structure to secure the basket shape and form. The final product is exquisitely constructed and sturdy.
History of Baskets
Evidence tells us that humans have been making and using baskets for as long as we can trace, making basket weaving one of the oldest art forms known. These ancient baskets were used for a variety of reasons, based primarily on the geographical needs of the weavers; those who lived near water created baskets to help with fishing needs, while people living inland wove baskets that aided them with harvesting, carrying, and storing grains.
The variety of weaves and materials used worldwide make for thousands of different types and styles of baskets; it has been said that baskets are a reflection of the diverseness found in the population today. Each individual weaver creates their own masterpieces with varying weaves, materials, colors, and patterns. The purpose for which the basket was woven also factors into the intricate designs; some are woven tight enough to hold water, while others are made with a more open weave.
Traditional basket weavers use materials they have at hand to create the baskets needed sustain their lives. The materials historically consist of natural fibers which can be found in the native environment. Examples of typical fibers include many varieties of grasses, vines, trees, and roots. Essentially, any material flexible and strong enough to withstand weaving can be used. Baskets vary not only across geographies and cultures, but also within the regions in which they are created, based on the creator and the materials available in the immediate area.
When the trading and selling of goods between distant lands became common, items to be traded or sold were stored in baskets to accommodate the many forms of transportation. Because these baskets traveled across seas and continents, weaving styles and designs were ultimately distributed throughout the world and shared across cultures; some were adopted for practical use, others coveted for their craftsmanship and attractiveness.
Just the same as ages past, baskets today are used for functional purposes and are also appreciated as forms of art. Many are collected and displayed simply for their beauty. True basket weaving is still done by hand, so it remains an art form: handmade and quite personal, carrying the artistic signature of the person who made it.
Whether you have baskets in your home to store and organize, or for the uniqueness and beauty, please enjoy them. Someone, somewhere has put much effort and artistic touch into your hand-made basket, and it is indeed, special and one of a kind.