Desirae Bernice Rambler (San Carlos Apache)
Te’tsah (Burden Basket), Leave Your Burdens at the Door
Buckskin, willow bark, tin cone jingles
The piece was chosen because it is a visual depiction of Apache beliefs and values, the journey we follow through life, the pain/suffering/hardships/blessings, happiness and peace. Are all embedded into the pathway we have in life and the basket is designed to remind us that there is always light, no matter how much darkness there is in the world. The burden basket is hung to protect, heal, and strengthen the holder.
Apache people have great pride and respect for baskets as it is used in the traditional coming of age ceremonies. The baskets have cone-shaped bottoms that can be flat or rounded. Buckskin, willow bark, and tin cone jingles are used to embellish the basket. A buckskin has a carrying strap, which was worn around the head or shoulders. The tin cones scare away snakes, bad spirits, and alerts other that you are coming. Young children were given small baskets, and the jingling alerted parents to where their children were. The baskets are said to be hung outside a Wikiup or Apache home, and visitors were supposed to place their burdens basket outside before entering. These baskets were the inspiration for the phrase “leave your burdens at the door.”
Western Apache Burden Basket
1920s-30s; Center of Southwest Studies Collections 2009:010.001; Donated by the family of Professor Lewis Soens
(upper image on right)