The basket bags are back and this time not only to complement the beachwear, but also in the streets of the spring and summer. Same goes for the straw and raffia bag trend as this handbag style fits in quite well in appropriate spring and summer wardrobe recalling its first appearance in the 1970's, when Jane Birkin was photographed all around Paris, toting her woven basket, paired with perfectly slouchy jeans, a classic t-shirt, and, of course, her famous negligent and charming hairstyle.
How did Jane's bag differ from the usual basket? And how did humanity learn to use baskets as an unusual and beautiful fashion accessory? It seemed interesting to explore how balance was found between functionality and modernity.
Origins of the Basket Bag
It looks like a bucket bag, however, was created before the basket. Ancient people used tree bark to make simple containers. These containers could be used to transport gathered food and other items, but crumble after only a few uses. Weaving strips of bark or other plant material to support the bark containers would be the next step, followed by entirely woven baskets. The last innovation appears to be baskets so tightly woven that they could hold water. It turns out that baskets were originally designed as multi-purpose baskets to carry and store and to keep stray items about the home. the use of materials varies from region to region, forcing people to use locally available raw materials derived from plants. The choice of material influenced the weaving technique.
People used rattan and other members of Arecaceae or palm tree family, and also some varieties of the thin grasses available in the temperate regions. They also used the broad-leaved tropical bromeliads. Each of these materials require a different method of twisting and braiding to be made into a basket. Experiments with materials and the practice of basket making has evolved into an art.
A special story is also about the habits of carrying a basket. In ancient times, there are many examples of how baskets were worn on the head. And only when the people began to carry the baskets in their hand, the development of the handbag could start.
The oldest handbags or bucket bags, apparently, appeared in Mesopotamia. The panel from the Northwest Palace at Nimrud (ancient Kalhu) depicts a winged supernatural figure. Such figures appear throughout the palace, sometimes flanking either the figure of the Assyrian king or a stylized "sacred tree."
The figure depicted on the panel is eagle-headed and faces left, holding in his left hand a bucket and in his right hand a cone whose exact nature is unclear. One suggestion has been that the gesture, sometimes performed by figures flanking a sacred tree, is symbolic of fertilization: the "cone" resembles the male date spathe used by Mesopotamian farmers, with water, to artificially fertilize female date-palm trees. [1.]
The figures are supernatural but do not represent any of the great gods. Rather, they are part of the vast supernatural population that for ancient Mesopotamians animated every aspect of the world. It has been suggested that the figures in the palace reliefs represent the apkallu, wise sages from the distant past.
What do their hands hold? None of the Apkallus has two empty hands, and they don’t hold swords or bows and arrows; instead, several types of daggers were tucked into their waistbands. Sources say that they hold the banduddu (in Akkadian) or bucket filled with fluid. This fluid might be water of melting snow. Assyrians thought that the snow on the mountains is scared as it comes from the sky where their gods and goddesses dwell. [4.]
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My name is Edīte Parute and I am a fashion historian and researcher from Latvia, association member at "The Association of Dress Historians" (UK) and author of the book "Stila un modes enciklopēdija"/"Encyclopedia of Style and Fashion" (2010) as well as author of many publications.