- Sep 2016
Trail of Life and Path of the Sun design patterns, the box embodies the continuity of Mohegan cultural traditions and identity in a time of tremendous change.
According to the Mohegan tribe's vision statement, they "walk as a single spirit on the Trail of Life" and they are "guided by thirteen generations past." This not only exemplifies the continuity of their traditions, but it also explains their intense sense of community--the tribe views itself as a single entity.
("Our Vision." The Mohegan Tribe. Web. 05 Sept. 2016.)
I wasn't sure what this term meant, so I looked up the definition. "Weft" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "the threads that run from side to side on a loom or in a woven fabric." ( "Weft." Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, 2016. Merriam-Webster.com. Web. 06 Sept. 2016.)
Finally, as a text, the basket assumes primacy over its newspaper lining, reducing it to a utilitarian function devoid of communicative practice.
This is a bit ironic, considering that newspaper, a widely recognized form of communication, does not function as expected. The basket does the talking, so to speak, while the newspaper becomes mundane and insignificant.
One of the four-domed medallions described by the author. It also as the symbol for the Mohegan tribe.
(Mohegan Tribe Logo. Digital image. The Mohegan Tribe. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Sept. 2016.)
Most scholarship on Native decorated artifacts has focused on material aspects.
The lack of depth of the study of these and the decision to focus on the material aspects of the artifacts seems to reflect Western culture in that it is preoccupied with the outward beauty or immediate value of an item rather than its cultural significance or the messages that it could convey.
Any text is open to multiple readings, but this particular analysis reflects a non-Native bias
This makes me wonder how accurate a single translation or interpretation of a basket can be. How were the meanings of the symbols initially determined? I can only assume that the translations were passed on orally, but the article does not discuss how the author knows what the symbols represent, nor does she explore the history behind them.
Authorship, then, is communal rather than individual, and the resulting narrative belongs to the community as a whole.
This sense of community identity can be seen in western culture as well, in some areas more than in others. For example, urban areas that have large populations and a high density of people are generally more community oriented, as they lack personal space. This sense of community may no influence the creation of artifacts, but it can shape politics and even the built environment of the area.
In sum, by touching every aspect of daily Native life, both past and present, basketry is imbued with cultural and spiritual power.
It seems fitting that these items, which initially seem mundane in nature, should be used to communicate and convey messages. The history and culture is literally woven into the basket this item of practical use, which I find very impressive.
Mohegan Wood-splint Basket
Nicole Cooley's "Dollshouses Weren't Invented for Play" details the history of doll houses and their unexpected origins. The original purpose of dollhouses differs greatly from the understood use of the modern doll dollhouse--play. The first dollhouses served a purpose that was precisely opposite: show. Called "miniature houses," they were symbols of wealth and social status, or otherwise served as tools to teach young girls how to manage a household. After the industrial revolution, however, when dollhouses and miniatures were mass-produced, they became common toys and their image shifted dramatically. No longer were these structures and their contents viewed as indicators of wealth. They were simply playtoys.
With the advent of social media, dollhouses and miniatures have again begun to take on a new identity. Rather than being locked away in the parlors of large houses or the bedrooms of little girls, digital images shared across dozens of social media platforms have given these objects new life. Dollhouses and miniatures have come to represent a cultural era and can be enjoyed by millions worldwide. They are reflective of a maker movement that fosters a cultural identity and sense of community that was simply not present in the past.
Cooley, Nicole. "Dollhouses Weren't Invented for Play." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 22 July 2016. Web. 05 Sept. 2016.