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Winnowing basket

Northern Paiute
winnowing basket

ca. 1920
Klamath Reservation, Oregon
Willow shoots
64 x 52 x 15 cm
Collected by Edward H. Davis

Large and small fan-shaped winnowing, parching, and sifting trays are hallmarks of Great Basin plant processing. Women used open-twined trays to winnow chaff from large seeds and nuts and to parch these materials with hot coals before grinding them for mushes or adding them to stews. They used finer, more closely woven trays to sift small seeds and flour after it was ground. Plant fibers such as willows (various species of Salix) and sumac (Rhus trilobata) were used to make the trays, as these materials were strong and easily manipulated when wet. Women carefully tended patches of these plants by cutting and burning them to encourage new growth of long, straight stems.

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