Woven baskets

Selk'nam (Ona) / Yámana (Yaghan), 19th century AD
From Tierra del Fuego

Mápi grass baskets

These small baskets are made from mápi grass (Juncus magellanicus). Plaited grass and sinew have been used for the handles. They would probably have been used for carrying or storing food items such as berries, eggs or shellfish. The baskets have been woven by hand, producing a characteristic tight weave. These examples could be those which were acquired about 1827 by Captain Philip Parker King, naval officer on HMS Beagle, a ship better known for one of its later passengers, Charles Darwin.

Woven baskets were a common item in Fuegian households and were used by all the different ethnic groups on the islands. A European drawing, made during an expedition to the area in the seventeenth century, depicts similar baskets being held by members of a Fuegian hunting party.

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More information


C. McEwan, L.A. Borrero and A Prieto (eds), Patagonia: natural history, pr (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

S.K. Lothrop, 'The Indians of Tierra del Fuego' in Contributions from the Museum, Vol. X (New York, Heye Foundation, 1928)

P. Dransart, 'Fuegia basket or the life of a basketmaker in Tierra del Fuego' in Basketmakers: meaning and form, Monograph 5 (Oxford, Pitt Rivers Museum, 1992)


Height: 15.000 cm (Q79.Am11)
Diameter: 11.000 cm (Q79.Am11)
Height: 15.000 cm (Q79.Am11)
Diameter: 11.000 cm (Q79.Am11)
Height: 15.000 cm (Q79.Am11)
Diameter: 11.000 cm (Q79.Am11)

Museum number

AOA Ethno Q79.Am11;AOA Ethno Holm 17;AOA Ethno Holm 16


Q79.Am11: Possibly a gift of Captain P.P. King
Others: Gift of E.A. Holmested


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