Often baskets from other countries are misidentified as being made by an American Indian. This occurs on popular general auction sites due to uninformed sellers. When the seller comments “I don’t know whether it is Pima or Apache, but the person I got this from said it was . . . “, avoid this seller unless you are the expert. It takes all of two minutes to learn the difference between the work of these two tribes, so why purchase a basket from Pakistan or Botswana just because someone is too lazy to establish who made the basket?
And yes, there are sellers who really do know the difference, but are skirting responsibility by blaming “their friend”.
A bit of bad news about baskets is “inpainting“. In recent years some conservators have been paid to “inpaint” the outer fibers of a basket. The basket’s natural patina develops as the fibers age and are exposed to natural light. A dealer can request that this color shift be made more uniform in appearance by the application of paint to the basket’s surface.
Remedy: collectors of older American Indian baskets will need to purchase and use an ultra-violet light to gauge whether or not their baskets have been tweaked this way. Pigment or materials that are newer than the original materials will appear dark purple when you and the basket are in a pitch dark room or closet.
Conservators are employed to clean baskets, to correct warpage in shape, to introduce stitches of new material where there are missing stitches. I would prefer to know what kind of plastic surgery has been performed on the basket I am about to procure, rather than find out on my own with my trusty UV light after the fact.
Corinne Cain of www.SavvyCollector.com
Moral to this story: Get savvy and become a Savvy Collector !!!