Object photography

Image © Dennis Helmar, 2008.
Click image to enlarge +

Object description

  • Diné (Navajo) artist
  • Wedding basket, before 1890
  • Sumac, dye
  • Southwestern United States
  • H: 2 1/4 in, dia.: 12 1/2 in (H: 5.7 cm, dia.: 31.7 cm)
  • Gift of Miss Bertha Kenny, 1960
  • E37259
  • Decorated with symbols of origins and life stages
  • Filled with cornmeal during wedding ceremonies

The symbols on this wedding basket relate to the continuity of life: the white center represents the Earth's emergence; the inner black steps are sacred mountains; the red coils are rays of the sun; and the outer steps are rain clouds. During a wedding ceremony, white and yellow cornmeal would fill the basket, signifying the blending of two lives.


This is a round, shallow, wedding basket made with a coil weave construction technique. The basket is made with undyed (natural color) split reeds ornamented with two bands of stepped pyramids of dark brown. There is a symbolic opening in the pattern that should always point East, based on Diné worldview.

Exhibition History

  • Wedded Bliss: The Marriage of Art and Ceremony, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.; April 26, 2008 through September 14, 2008