GO 51-Multi color trapozoid. Silk Stitch
The best baskets in the world" is a title not used lightly. These baskets are without a doubt the finest, most intricate, and beautiful baskets being made today. Two tribes of Darien rainforest native indians from Panama and Colombia produce these baskets. The Wounaan and Embera Indians are a stoneage, rainforest culture just recently emerging into the modern world. Their traditional baskets have been woven for years for utilitarian purposes but in the 1950's they began to make more intricate and colorful baskets for sale to the public. This is one of the few ways the Indians have to get hard currency to provide motors and fuel for their dugout canoes and to acquire items of the modern world.
The black palm tree is the source for the fibers used to make Hosig Di baskets. When a new palm frond emerges from the crown of the the black palm it is harvested, the fibers stripped, washed and then dyed using natural dye materials. It may take four or more palm fronds to provide the material for one small basket and many palm fronds to make a large and intricate basket. Chunga is the native name for this fiber. One of natures strongest fibers it has many purposes in the native life. Men make ropes to build bridges over the numerous creeks and rivers in the Darien rainforest and also use the fiber to tie the materials together to build their simple homes. The black palm is becoming scarce as logging and clearing for farm use has reduced the habitat for the tree. The two tribes are now planting seeds of the black palm to insure a supply in the future of the chunga needed to make baskets.
A small baskets will take months to weave and a large basket can easily take two, three or even four years to produce. A skilled weaver may only weave one line around the circumference of a small basket in a day. It is a small wonder that these baskets do not cost more due to the time needed to produce just one small basket and the increasing scarcity of Chunga.
We have been collecting Hosig Di baskets for over 15 years and continue to make forays into the Darien to purchase baskets each month. Our home is in Altos del Maria, Panama which we use a a headquarters for our collecting of baskets and other items from Panama.
We always try to have a good selection of baskets on hand and we never know when we are going to find the next great basket. We do not purchase, offer, or encourage the collecting of "tourist baskets". These are lower cost baskets made in a looser, less defined, and inferior manner than the "Fina" baskets so eagerly sought out by our collectors. A collector should look for crisp, clean designs with bright even color with as many stitches to the inch as your can find. A true "Fina" basket may have as many as 400 stitches to the square inch. Alas, the Wounaan and Embera Indians are finding it is easier to make a tourist basket than to spend years to make a truly great "Fina" basket. We encourage all of our weavers to strive for the best basket they know how to make and we will then gladly pay more for that basket. We do not buy tourist baskets!. The days of finding 12 or 15 great baskets on a buying trip is over. We are glad to find four or five baskets now.