A cylindrical basket made of plant fibres
Baskets like this one from Borneo were produced in villages where families had to travel some distance to their farms. This created a need for a wide range of basket types: closely weaved ones for seeds, strong light ones for harvested crops and decorated ones for ceremonies. What is remarkable is the individual variation found between basket types in Borneo. This one was made by the Kenyah, Dayak people who live inland near the upper waters of the Rejang and Baram Rivers.
This basket was made between 1900 and 1920 from rattan fibre (rotan in Malaysian), a climbing palm found in the forest. Rattan from Borneo is not only exceptionally strong it is also acknowledged as being amongst the finest used to make mats, carry bags and traps. Black and red are the traditional basket colours. Black is obtained by dying strips of fibre in an extract from the 'tarum' plant. Red is obtained by dying strips of rattan in an extract made from the ripe fruit of the rattan plant. A fine example of textile technology it was purchased by the museum in 1984.
Chin, L., and Mashman, V., 'Sarawak; a Cultural Legacy a Living Tradition', Society Atelier Sarawak, Malaysia, 1991
Butcher, M., 'Contemporary International Basketmaking', Merrell Holberton, London, 1999
Significance Statement, Geoff Barker, March, 2007