sample Oaxaca trunk
These two baskets are both called chiquihuites, a favorite of Zapotec women in the Valley of Oaxaca. Woven of very finely cut carrizo (bamboo), which grows along the creeks, the left one is for daily use, like carrying boiled corn nixtamal to the molino (mill) to be ground into masa to make tortillas or for just going to the market. The right one, chiquihuite is for festivals/fiestas. It would be lined with a colorful rebozo (shawl) or servilleta (tortilla cloth) and filled with foods and gifts to give people attending a fiesta.
Weaving a basket is very complicated and takes a long time to master. There are many types of baskets in Oaxaca, so distinctive that you can tell the village they are made in just by the materials, forms and designs. The most important role for baskets is storage: large baskets for clothing and storing corn and smaller baskets for foods, ingredients and personal items. This basket (above) is called a tenate and is from the village of Miahuatlan, Oaxaca, known for its weavers who create intricate geometric designs. These baskets have become a very important source of income for families, which often specialize in a specific basket and sell it in local markets.
In this picture, a man is weaving canasta, the generic word for basket, made from carrizo (bamboo). As flexible as carrizo is to weave, it is also very hard and extremely difficult to cut in strips for baskets.