Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Cherokee Patterns

That spring morning, Rowena Bradley was sitting in a kitchen chair at the edge of her front yard. Dogs slept fitfully nearby, a cat stared from the window, and hens pecked nervously at the ground. Looking out toward the mountains as she wove a rivercane basket, Rowena Bradley followed with her fingers a pattern that lives in her memory. Occasionally selecting a cane split from a bucket half-filled with water, she wove quickly, scarcely pausing to examine her work. She knew without looking how the pattern would develop in the basket. She has woven rivercane baskets most of her life. The pattern she was weaving is sometimes called "Flowing Water", but the name has no meaning to Rowena Bradley. "Well now," she says, "I'll tell you just like I've told everybody else. My mother never had no names or no meaning to her designs. she just made them. And that's the way I do."

Among Cherokees, women have been the primary makers and users of baskets.The story of Cherokee basketry and the story of Cherokee women are like a doublewoven basket, interwoven, inseparable, and complex. The stories encompass strands of the past and present, and represent transformations in lives, minds, and landscapes.

source: Weaving New Worlds, by Sarah Hill