Wickerwork from Sardinia: hands, plants, and beauty

Baskets, hats, sifters, jewel boxes, bottle covers, chairs, floor mats… Sardinia’s wickerwork represents an ancient, traditional craft that had a crucial role in the island’s history and culture. Once passed on from generation to generation – usually the prerogative of women, who made wicker items by hand, mainly for their families or neighbors – this art is about to die out.

Although traditional wickerwork granted success to some noteworthy companies in the region, today foreign competitors and mechanical methods – now popular throughout the territory – are quickly turning authentic hand-made items into a rarity. The crisis is also exacerbated by the difficulties in sourcing materials – taken from plants that are now either scarce or strictly protected for environmental reasons. Last but not least: these gorgeous objects were once used to make bread at home or work in the fields, while in our modern lifestyle they are merely decorative accents.

Here is a selection of beautiful wickerwork objects – most of them baskets – made in the 20th century.

 

Photos via: Vv. Aa., “Intrecci. Storia, linguaggio e innovazione in Sardegna”, Fondazione Banco di Sardegna, Ilisso Edizioni, Nuoro 2011

Scatola con coperchio, Castelsardo, inizio XX, sec., ordito e tessitura in palma nana, Museo Nazionale "G.A. Sanna", Sassari

Box with lid, Castelsardo, early 20th century, dwarf palm warp and weft, Museo Nazionale "G.A. Sanna", Sassari

Scatola con coperchio, Castelsardo, inizio XX, sec., ordito e tessitura in rafia, collezione privata, Paulilatino

Box with lid, Castelsardo, early 20th century, raffia warp and weft, private collection, Paulilatino

Cesto con coperchio (pòntina), anni Cinquanta XX sec., ordito in fieno marino e tessitura in palma nana, collezione privata, Sennori

Basket with lid ("pòntina"), 1950s, hay warp and dwarf palm weft, private collection, Sennori

Scatola con coperchio, Castelsardo, seconda metà XX sec., ordito in fieno marino e tessitura in rafia, disegno dell'artista Giovanni Ciusa Romagna, collezione privata, Nuoro

Box with lid, Castelsardo, second half of the 20th century, hay warp and raffia weft, design by artist Giovanni Ciusa Romagna, private collection, Nuoro

Scatola con coperchio, Castelsardo, seconda metà XX sec., ordito in fieno marino e tessitura in rafia, Museo delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari, Roma

Box with lid, Castelsardo, second half of the 20th century, hay warp and raffia weft, Museo delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari, Rome

Basket, Castelsardo, mid-20th century, dwarf palm warp and weft, Museo dell'intreccio mediterraneo, Castelsardo

A sinistra, Cesto (crobi), prima metà XX sec., Campidano, ordito e tessitura in giunco, Museo della Vita e delle Tradizioni Popolari, Nuoro

On the left, basket ("crobi"), first half of the 20th century, Campidano, reed warp and weft, Museo della Vita e delle Tradizioni popolari, Nuoro

Cesti ("canistredde"), Castelsardo, inizio XX sec., ordito e tessitura in palma nana, Museo Nazionale "G.A. Sanna", Sassari

Baskets ("canistredde"), Castelsardo, early 20th century, dwarf palm warp and weft, Museo Nazionale "G.A. Sanna", Sassari

Cesto ("canistedda"), San Vero Milis, 1911, ordito in culmi di grano e tessitura in giunco, fondo di stoffa, Museo Nazionale delle Arti e Tradizioni popolari, Roma

Basket ("canistedda"), San Vero Milis, 1911, wheat warp and reed weft, fabric bottom, Museo Nazionale delle Arti e Tradizioni popolari, Rome

Cesto ("canistredda"), Castelsardo, 1911, Museo Nazionale delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari, Roma

Basket ("canistredda"), Castelsardo, 1911, raffia warp and weft, Museo Nazionale delle Arti e Tradizioni popolari, Rome

Cesto (canistredda), Castelsardo, 1911, Museo Nazionale delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari, Roma

Basket ("canistredda"), Castelsardo, 1911, raffia warp and weft, Museo Nazionale delle Arti e Tradizioni popolari, Rome

Cesto ("canistredda"), Castelsardo, 1911, Museo Nazionale delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari, Roma

Basket ("canistredda"), Castelsardo, 1911, raffia warp and weft, Museo Nazionale delle Arti e Tradizioni popolari, Rome

Cesto ("pallinedda"), XX sec., Domus de Maria, ordito in culmi di grano e tessitura in giunco con inserti di panno e stoffa, collezione privata, Domus de Maria

Basket ("pallinedda"), mid-20th century, Domus de Maria, wheat warp and reed weft with cloth and fabric inserts, private collection, Domus de Maria

Cesti in palma nana, 1957, Ittiri, disegno di Eugenio Tavolara (foto Archivio Eugenio Tavolara)

Dwarf palm baskets, 1957, Ittiri, designs by Eugenio Tavolara (photos: Archivio Eugenio Tavolara)

Wickerwork from Sardinia: hands, plants, and beauty

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