Enjoy this stunning baleen basket with whale tail finial by Marilyn Hank Otton.
This basket is a small baleen basket approximately 4" in diameter and 4.5" High.
While some whales have teeth, other whales have baleen. Baleen is a hair-like structure found inside the mouths of plankton-eating whales, who feed by swimming with their mouths open and filtering small fish and organisms.
Traditionally, Inupiaq natives of the arctic region subsistence hunt the bowhead whale and use the baleen plates from harvested whales as tools, daily utensils, and even ornamental objects like baskets.
Baleen baskets are extremely difficult to weave and very collectible. Weaving a basket isn't easy. The baleen first must be stripped and soaked in water before the weaving process can begin. Thin strips of baleen are cut and attached to ivory disks at the start. The next step involves a coiling method to sew baleen bands together, twining the basket with an ivory starter piece on the bottom, and fastening a detailed design made from walrus ivory or bone finial for the lid.
Today, there are just a handful of people who weave these baskets primarily men. Baleen basket production is generally limited to Barrow, Point Hope, Kivalina, and Kotzebue or St. Lawrence Island where trading occurs.
Only Alaskan Natives are allowed to harvest and use baleen.
Baleen baskets are rare, a prized possession in any basket collection. One-of-a-kind.