Just like weavers of Wounaan Hösig Di can choose from geometric or pictorial motifs, they also can choose from two methods of stitching: rib-stitch or silk.
Photo: Lorran Meares
Used by early Native American basket weavers—whose baskets, today, are worth tens of thousands of dollars—coil construction uses long bundles of natural materials, like stiff grasses and reeds, which bend as the artist weaves one row on top of the other. While fronds from the rainforest’s native naguala palms are used for the base of the baskets, those from chunga palms, which are known for their flexible and supple nature, are used to carefully stitch each basket’s design. Under this process, rib stitching is the most popular technique. By constructing the basket in such a way that the curvature of the round coil is accentuated, the result is a ribbed appearance—making the inside of the basket look a lot like corduroy.
Silk stitched construction
close-up of silk-stitching
Silk stitch, on the other hand, uses the same materials, but results in a basket that contains a flat, smooth texture. By constructing the stitch in a way that it takes the emphasis away from the curvature of the coil, the artist is able to create a product that has the look and feel of a silk tapestry.
Though silk stitching requires more fiber, and as such, is regarded as a more difficult technique than the coil, rib-stitch process, each has a profound effect when applied to their designated motif. In fact, the overall appearance of the motif depends on more than just the stitching process—it is also affected by the complexity of the design, the width and length of the stitch, and the selected hues. As there are no two-dimensional patterns to follow as an example, pictorial motifs of the rainforest take the longest for even the most talented of weavers to complete.