Archeologists consider baskets to be one of the oldest crafts known to man. While most of the actual baskets didn't survive, their imprints and tools did, indicating their early existance.
For early man baskets were a necessity. Their uses included containers for water and food storage, furniture, and even boats. With the utilization of other materials such as metal, pottery, and more recently, plastic, baskets have become less of a necessity and more artistic.
Despite modern man's industrialized society, baskets are one commodity that can not be mechanized. Each basket that is on a store's shelf has been constructed by hand.
Throughout history and today the materials used in a basket's construction has been gathered from nature.
Most materials need additional preparation. Some need thorns, leaves, or bark removed. Many need to be soaked in water to become more pliable.
One of my fellow ribs classmates, Dr. Kathleen Beauchesne, has coordinated a wealth of information on the craft from the past to present.
Today, the most common material sold through supply chains is Rattan or Reed.