Basketry is one of the oldest forms of craft, central in ancient Egyptian tradition and attested from the earliest sites in Egypt, including Fayoum (Neolithic period, ca. 5000 BC). Baskets served as versatile storage and transportation containers for different types of goods, as well as containers during construction processes. Such variety of use resulted in there being different words in the ancient Egyptian vocabulary to denote baskets. The hieroglyph ‘nb’, ‘nbt’ (basket), perhaps the most well known one, was also used to indicate lordship and the ruler’s authority, and often features in royal names. Baskets were usually made from thick reeds and were sometimes lined with mud to increase their sturdiness. Some, such as this example, had lids and handles and could be woven with elaborate patterns, executed with reeds or leaves in different colours. Different techniques were used for basket-making: coiled, twined and plaited containers have all been recorded in ancient Egypt and allow to categorise these items based on their composition and form. Plaited construction, seen on this example, created cohesive units which did not required additional stitching other than to secure the edges.
Coptic Reed Basket
A Coptic reed basket featuring a rounded shape and an applied handle to either side. The original lid, woven in the same material, sits on the top of the container. The strips of reed were woven in plaited technique, passing under and over each other at regular intervals and forming a herringbone pattern. The continuous intersections of the material give the basket a sturdy structure, which presents additional stitching at the perimeters only, to secure the edges.
Condition: Fine condition.