This is a vintage, handwoven rattan basket from Vietnam. Purchased many years ago on our travels there all the way in the north of Vietnam, Sapa. This basket was mainly used for rice or tea, completed with straps to allow a more efficient means of carrying. These baskets are quite rare now, though contemporary versions are still being made today. This basket is old, and is evident of that by the patina that resides on the edges of the basket. This basket contains 3 removable sections, each 4" high, allowing different types of food to be kept separate upon travel.
This basket was collected by David Spetka, the founder of our company, in Vietnam during the early days of his travels in Vietnam, between approximately 2002 and 2008. He says that at that time these baskets were plentiful in Hanoi, where he primarily found them. David first went to Hanoi in 2002, 7 years after diplomatic relations between the US and Vietnam were established, following the war. Now, only 17 years after his first trip there, these baskets have become far less available, much harder to find.
Although there may be a specific tribal association for each of these baskets, it is hard to determine. It appears to us that most of the peoples of the Central Highlands area of Vietnam, i.e., the provinces of Quang Nam, Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dac Lac use or have used baskets very similar to these. I use the word “tribe” to discuss them although the Vietnamese refer to them as “ethnic minorities”, of which there are 54 in the entire country. Among those we know use these baskets in the Central Highlands are the Gia Rai, the Ko Tu and the E De. However, it is hard to say that any one of these baskets is uniquely associated with any one of these ethnic minorities. David bought them all from dealers in Hanoi, over the period of time they were available there. Typically the dealers in Hanoi would buy them from itinerant “pickers” whose profession is to travel from village to village offering to buy whatever people have in their houses they are willing to sell, if they need some money. For this reason there may still be thousands of these baskets still in use in the villages but their owners have just not determined that the need for money superseded the utility of the baskets. We don’t know. We do know that the pickers have not tended to keep specific information about the origin of each basket so the dealers in Hanoi can only guess where they came from and how old they might be.
This basket measure 17″ x 10.5″