Home of the Butterflies Basket
Home of the Butterflies Basket

Utah State Folk Arts Collection



2 x 19.50

Not on View



Copyright All Years. Utah Division of Arts & Museums. All Rights Reserved.

View all works by: Mary Holiday Black

Turquoise , yellow and purple butterfly wings are around the basket near the rim. Black pinwheel is in the center. Has a multi-colored rim. It is a flat plate-like basket. During the 1960's and 70's, Mary was a leader among the Douglas Mesa basketmakers in developing new styles of non-ceremonial baskets. She has inspired her children and many neighbors who now weave story baskets.

There is an ancient Navajo legend about a man who changes into butterfly. His wives mistake him as their husband and they follow him away to his home. While rescuing his wives, the man goes through four competitions or ordeals to prove his worthiness. Ultimately he is forced to kill the white butterfly and he does; butterflies of many colors and designs are released. According to Navajo belief, this explains why there are so many beautiful butterflies in the world today.

Although Mary Black has woven many baskets that feature images from Navajo myths and ceremonies, this basket is unusual because she depicts the multi-colored butterflies through abstract forms rather than through recognizable butterfly images. Her elliptical, abstract shapes convey the beauty of the butterflies’ fluttering wings and in combination with the waving black lines that reach out from the center, suggest movement and flight more effectively than a literal image of butterflies ever could.