Dat So La Lee

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Louisa Keyser,
Dat So La Lee
Datsolalee.png
Born Dabuda[citation needed]
ca. 1845–1855[1]
Died December 6, 1925(1925-12-06)
Carson City, Nevada, United States
Nationality Washoe
Education Self-taught
Known for Basket weaving

Louisa Keyser, or Dat So La Lee (ca. 1844/55 – December 6, 1925) was a celebrated Native American basket weaver. A member of the Washoe people in northwestern Nevada, her basketry came to national prominence during the Arts and Crafts movement and the "basket craze" of the early 20th century.

Name[edit]

Louisa acquired the surname Keyser when she married her husband Charlie Keyser. Her nom d'art was Dat So La Lee, which derives from the Washoe phrase Dats'ai-lo-lee meaning "Big Hips."[1] Her art dealers, the Cohns, described her birth name as being Dabuda, meaning "Young Willow."

Documentation[edit]

Dat So La Lee met her future art dealers Amy and Abram Cohn around 1895. She was most likely hired by the couple as a laundress.[1] They recognized the quality of Dat So La Lee's weaving and, wanting to enter the curio trade in Native American art, decided to promote and sell her basketry. Abram "Abe" Cohn owned the Emporium Company, a men's clothing store, in Carson City, Nevada.[1]

The couple began to document every basket she produced from 1895–1925. This expanded to include about 120 baskets that are documented. Most if not all of these documented baskets where sold at Cohn's Emporium, while the Cohn's providing Keyser with food, lodging, and healthcare. The supreme craftsmanship of these baskets certainly add to the value, but the Cohn's early documentation promoted her artwork. Scholars have discovered that almost everything the Cohns wrote about Keyser was an exaggeration or fabrication.[1]

Craftsmanship[edit]

Dat So La Lee baskets

Dat So La Lee primarily used willow in the construction of her basketry. She would usually start out with three rods of willow and then weave strands around that. Her predominate style was a flat base, expanding out into its maximum circumference and tapering back to a hole in the top around the same size as the base. This is the degikup style that she popularized with Washoe basketweavers.[2]

Resting place[edit]

Dat So La Lee is buried in the Stewart Cemetery on Snyder Avenue in Carson City, Nevada. Though very much surrounded by diverse cultures because of the recognition of her work, she would only have a Woodford medicine man named Tom Walker treat her and prepare her for death.[citation needed] On December 2, 1925 they began a four day ritual to help her complete her days so that she could pass on to death. She died on December 6, 1925. Her simple marble grave marker reads "Dat So La Lee / Famous Washoe Basket Maker / Died 12. 6. 25." A nearby Nevada state historic marker reads, "Myriads of stars shine over the graves of our ancestors."

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Marvin Cohodas (1992). "Chapter 4. Louisa Keyser an the Cohn: Mythmaking and Basket Making in the American West". In Berlo, Janet Catherine. The Early Years of Native American Art History. Seattle: University of Washington Press. pp. 88–133. ISBN 0-7748-0433-5. 
  2. ^ Dat So La Lee Basket Weaver- from CaliforniaBaskets.Com - Indian Basket Marketplace - Datsolalee Indian Baskets - California Indian Basketry - Louisa Keyser Washo Basket Weaver