A woven rush oval basket from the Limousin Region, France, 20th century 1
height: 4 in. (10 cm.), width: 13.5 in. (34 cm.), depth: 7.5 in. (19 cm.)
Further readings and sources:
- Baskets from the Limousin region in France, specifically woven rush baskets, have a rich history & unique craft tradition. They’ve been an essential part of the local lifestyle and commerce, particularly in the 20th century.
These baskets would have been used for daily domestic chores, agricultural work, and carrying goods to and from markets. Large ones would have been used to transport fruits, vegetables, or grains. The smaller baskets would have been more appropriately used for personal items, or even decoratively in the home. Baskets like these would have a significant utility in the daily life in rural areas of France in the twentieth century.
Materials and Techniques
Rush, the primary material used in these baskets, is a type of aquatic or marsh plant. Two common species of rush that may have been used are Soft Rush (Juncus effusus) and Hard Rush (Juncus inflexus). These plants were harvested, dried, and then soaked in water to make them pliable for weaving. The technique is time-consuming and requires a lot of patience, as each strand must be carefully woven into the next to ensure a sturdy and functional basket.
Basket weaving is an ancient art form and each region often has its unique style. A common technique used in the Limousin region would have been the “coiling” technique, where the rush is coiled round and round and each loop is sewn to the previous one. You can see this technique evident here in these baskets.
Why the Limousin Region?
Limousin is a historic and rural region in central France, known for its lush landscapes and abundant natural resources. Its numerous marshes and waterways provided an ideal environment for rush plants to grow, hence why the craft of rush weaving flourished there. Basket weaving was also a way for farmers and rural families to make use of the natural resources around them and create items of utility, and sometimes even supplement their income.
For more see French Wickerwork:The loss of an ancient tradition, Mortimer Hays-Brandeis Traveling Fellowship Proposal Camille Labarre, Brandeis University ↩