Basketry is one of the oldest crafts in the history of humankind. It is the craft of making baskets and other useful containers from various plant fibres and tree branches. Baskets were known and daily used in all the great civilizations of antiquity, including the Greek. Although no examples have survived intact due to the vulnerable material, however representations on pottery and descriptions of ancient texts provide a clear picture of ancient Greek basketry, which was the emblem par excellence of the deities of vegetation, growth and abundance, namely Demeter, Rhea, Hecate and of course the archetype goddess Gaia (Earth).
As to the Middle Ages, the Byzantine frescoes illustrate the development of basketry from approximately the 11th century AD. It was around this time that the first Roma people appear in the wider Greek region and joined the indigenous arts and crafts. Hereafter these will be the people who largely deal with basket weaving and other professions, such as sieve-makers, blacksmiths and so on. In fact, some of the baskets exhibited at the Basketry Museum, in terms of technique, materials and form, are identical to those used in Byzantine Thrace.
Basket weaving was performed by both nomadic and settled Roma populations, which are still to be found sporadically in the present-day Greek, Bulgarian and Turkish parts of Thrace. The most common raw materials for weaving are branches of willow (for decorative baskets), osier and reeds. Due to its excellent resistance, baskets made from hazel wood were popular and widespread, particularly among the Greeks of the Black Sea and the Pomaks of the mountainous Rodopi.
The advent of plastic and the change of the socioeconomic conditions in the 1950’s and 1960’s caused the decline of basketry, which became gradually extinct from its traditional production centers.
The Basketry Museum was founded by the Thracian Society. The
represent various types of baskets, such as those for
in rivers and lakes. The collections expand in four halls and present the following themes:
process of basket weaving
A basket maker’s household with domestic utensils made by Roma craftsmen.
Baskets of various types and uses
from the wider region of Thrace, along with specimens made by the Greeks of the Black Sea and the Pomaks of Rodopi mountains.
Adapted into English from the
Ministry of Culture and Tourism Webpage