Object: Basket

South America: Brazil: Tocantins: Mateiros
ca. 1990-2000
Materials: Grass

This basket, made of golden grass (Syngonanthus nitens) and fiber from the buriti palm (Mauritia flexuosa) was made in the village of Mateiros in the state of Tocantins, Brazil. Golden grass is not actually a grass, but instead is a grass-like species from the Eriocaulaceae family, native to the Brazilian cerrado. These plants produce small white flowers each year but are prized for their shiny metallic stems. Golden grass weaving is thought to have been developed by the indigenous Xerente (or Sherente) people. Today golden grass is used to make a large number of products, primarily for the tourist trade. It is currently one of the most important economic sources in the Jalapão area of Tocantins, Brazil. For that reason local government and community groups have been working to ensure the sustainability of this precious natural resource. Amongst these efforts is a limit on when the plants can be harvested, and a ban on the sale of the raw materials to outside areas.

The following video show what the raw material looks like and includes a weaving demonstration.

[Kathryn S. (Barr) McCloud]

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Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.


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