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During the later periods of the Stone Age, Lake County became home to the Pomo, Wintun, Wappo, and Lake Miwok Indians. The main gallery of the Lake County Historic Courthouse Museum has many artifacts and displays of the Pomo lifestyle. Dozens of decorated baskets of all sizes, used for a variety of purposes, are featured in the exhibit.

The Pomo Indians' excellence in basket making has never been equaled by any other Indian tribe or by any other people throughout the world. These fine baskets can be found in museums from coast to coast and even overseas at such museums as the Louvre in France.

There are two main types of woven baskets: twined and coiled. Twined baskets are made generally for rougher usage. Of these, the mu-tci or mortar basket was used when pounding acorns; and back-pack baskets were for carrying freshly gathered acorns.

Coiled baskets have both single-rod and double-rod coils. Some coiled baskets contain elaborate decorations like brilliant colored feathers from the red head and yellow throat of the red-headed woodpecker and green from the head of a mallard duck. Plumes from the male Valley Quail were held in highest esteem. Indian money made from shells was used in the baskets, and later beads were included in the designs.

The making of a fine basket usually stretched over a period of up to two months. The highly decorated baskets, especially those with feathers, were precious and were never sold. They became family heirlooms or were presented to leaders.

Some baskets, tci-mas, were so tightly coiled they could hold water without leaking and were used for cooking. Hot rocks were dropped into water and acorn meal until the mixture began to boil.

As many as twelve different materials are found in the baskets. Willow was used universally as the warp or woven base. Root of sedge, the bark of redbud (red patterns), bulrush root (often dyed black to give the black patterns), and digger pine root fibers provided strong materials for the woof in twine baskets and allowed rough use. One of the greatest problems faced by today's weavers is not having access to these essential materials.


Many of the collections are displayed in special areas within the Museum. A detailed exhibit about basket making includes photographs of weavers with their baskets











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Last modified: September 31, 2007