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Miwok Material Culture: Indian Life of the Yosemite Region (1933) by S. A. Barrett and E. W. Gifford


CRADLES

One of the most striking differences in the basketry of the Northern and Southern Miwok is in the cradles. In the north the cradle was not a basket, but was made of two hooked oaken sticks with wooden slats bound across, as shown in plate LXXIV, fig. 3. The two curved ends were placed at the top and served as the support of the face covering of the infant (Kroeber, 1925, pl. 39f). In the south a twined cradle was used, as shown in plate LXXIV, fig. 4.

The Field Museum of Natural History has two examples of the northern type of cradle (70237, Chicken Ranch, Tuolumne county; 70238, Bald Rock, Tuolumne county). Both have parallel bent sticks of oak; 70237 has cross pieces of elder and 70238, of chaparral. The width of 70237 at the bottom is 265 mm. Both have modern cloth carrying straps. In 70237 there are six extra cross sticks bound on the inside of the cradle where it begins to curve upward. These may have served as a sort of head-rest. In 70237, the cross sticks are lashed on with string; in 70238, with chaparral. The lashing in 70238 forms a figure 8 around the terminal part of each cross stick.

Variants of the woven cradle with willow warp are shown in plate LXXIV, fig. 2, and plate LXXV, figs. 1 and 2. Also in Kroeber, 1925, plate 39a, and c-e. These range from the small and very simple woven “board” (plate LXXIV, fig. 2) without any reinforcement, to the cradle reinforced with cross bars at the back (plate LXXIV, fig. 4), or with similar bars on the front (plate LXXV, fig. 2). Plate LXXV, fig. 1, has a complete hoop to reinforce it. In plate LXXIV, fig. 2, is shown a peculiar hemispherical, hoop-like frame for a complete cover for the face of the sleeping baby. All these hoods served primarily to keep the covering from touching the face. The hood in plate LXXIV, fig. 4, is copied after Mono and Washo models and is made of deer brush. The hood is woven apart from the bed of the cradle and is then attached to it. In this example the lashings are of cotton cloth. The hood is concavo-convex, of plain twining, with the woof courses quite far apart. A band of four to seven rods, held together by twining on its two terminal portions, is attached to the under side of the hood, in this example, with worsted. In this specimen the worsted forms a diamond pattern both on the upper and under sides of the hood. Zigzag lines or diamonds indicated a girl baby; the same plus vertical lines on each side indicated a boy baby. The hoods of true Miwok cradles gave no indication of the sex of the baby. Plate LXXIV, fig. 1, Central Miwok, the white strip of cloth forms a zigzag design on both sides.

Plate LXXIV, fig. 2, shows the type of cradle in which the Northern Miwok baby was kept until a month old. Thereafter the type shown in plate LXXIV, fig. 3, was employed.

At the present time cradles are provided with more or less soft pads like that in the cradle just mentioned. In aboriginal times, however, swaddling clothes (pa'ka, P, N) were made of a soft marsh grass procured in the lowlands. This was beaten between stones and shredded with a bone awl to make it as fine and soft as possible. The child was carefully wrapped and was bound into the cradle by means of a cord laced back and forth through loops on either edge of the “board.” The cradle was ordinarily used until the child was about two years old. Two cradles shown in plate LXXV, figs. 3 and 4, are types from adjacent tribes and are here shown for comparison.


Cradles.
[click to enlarge]

EXPLANATION OF PLATE LXXIV.

Figures 1-4. Cradles. Spec. Nos. 1-10119 (C), 1-10057 (N), 1-10055 (N), 1-10259 (S). Neg. No. 4880.



EXPLANATION OF PLATE LXXV.

Figures 1-4. Cradles. Spec. Nos. 1-10216 (S), 1-10235 (S), 1-10944 (Western Mono), 1-10731 (Maidu). Neg. No. 5003.

Cradles.
[click to enlarge]


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