Pomo Basketry Introduction
Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake Counties were the heart of the traditional lands of the people now known as the Pomo. They were not one tribe or nation, but were seven different linguistic groups, who, because of their shared cultural similarities, were grouped together in the descriptions made by early ethnographers. The Pomo lived in independent, permanent villages among the rolling hills, in the valleys, and along the Pacific Coast, subsisting on the plentiful natural foods available in their lands. Many types of wild plants - nuts, berries, seeds, roots, and greens - formed the core of the Pomo diet. The acorn, harvested from the oak trees, served as the staple from which breads and mushes were made. The abundant animal resources included deer, rabbit, various birds, fish, and shellfish.
Pomo basketry is acknowledged as perhaps the finest ever produced by any people at any time. Generally, Pomo baskets may be distinguished by their method of manufacture -- twining or coiling -- and at one time they could be further classified by their function either as utilitarian or as gift and special purpose, ceremonial baskets. Ten different plants are known to have been used in Pomo basketry, but the most characteristic materials are willow (Salix sp.), Sedge root (Carex barbarae), redbud shoot (Cercis occidentalis), and bulrush root (Scirpus maritimus). Our exhibit here is divided by basketweaving technique.