The History of the Wicker Basket

The History of the Wicker Basket

So, you love the look and feel of a wicker basket. But have you ever wondered where these beautiful solutions originated from? 

At Wovenhill, we’re passionate about providing premium quality wicker baskets in a wide range of types, styles, and designs. And, contrary to what you may believe, the historical significance of the wicker basket is extensive - and really quite interesting!

We’ve put together an overview of the rich history surrounding wicker baskets, so if you’re interested in learning more - keep reading! 

 Read on to discover the exciting history of the wicker basket… 

Wicker baskets have been around for a long time  

As we mentioned earlier, there is a long and varied history associated with wicker baskets. So, let us get started!

Wicker baskets have been around since ancient times. However, research suggests that the first-ever wicker basket creation came from Egypt. This is because, although it’s impossible to know with certainty, researchers working with ancient Egyptian artefacts discovered wicker baskets as well as other historical items - buried with the pharaohs. 

Fun fact - In Ancient Egypt, wicker was also used to create baskets for mummification because of how durable they were.  

Wicker baskets pre-date pottery

To put it into perspective, when it comes to how long wicker basket creation has been around - it’s an older craft than pottery. 

Pottery, which is the process of forming objects out of clay (and now other ceramic materials, such as porcelain), is thought to be one of the oldest practices of craftsmanship in human history. Evidence of pottery work dates back to 29,000 BC during the Neolithic period - which makes weaved baskets approximately 12,000 years older than pottery. 

Fun fact - China was one of the first civilisations to use wicker to create items of clothing, such as weaved hats and other accessories. 

Wicker is one of the oldest crafts in history

The technique of weaving a wicker basket is the oldest craft we know about in human history. So, the fact that its popularity has only ever grown over the thousands of years it has existed is pretty extraordinary.  

Fun fact - in 18th century England, the creation of wicker baskets was traditionally a father and son craft, and strongly seen as a ‘male profession’. Women eventually became integrated into the profession.  


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Wicker baskets have a cross-cultural history across ancient civilisations

There’s been plenty of speculation about where the wicker basket originated from. However, what we do know is that there has been evidence that wicker baskets are a cross-cultural creation from ancient times. 

Since researchers discovered physical evidence of wicker baskets in Egypt, it is also thought wicker baskets were produced throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. This is likely because these locations had access to an abundance of natural materials that were ideal for the creation of sturdy wicker baskets, which are still used today. 

Fun fact - the people of ancient Rome were thought to have adopted their wicker style directly from Egypt, due to the similarity in technique preference. 


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 Wicker baskets were used for a variety of purposes

Wicker baskets are renowned for being a decorative (yet useful) storage solution option, however, if we look back at their rich history - this is quite a new concept. In fact, because of how reliable, sturdy, and durable wicker baskets can be, they’ve been linked with a range of versatile purposes over previous centuries.  

From carrying goods, storing away perishable items and serving meals to being used as reliable baby cradles and the transportation of pets, wicker baskets were crafted for many practical purposes. Wicker baskets made from natural materials were ideal for transporting goods, due to being naturally light-weight.

 Fun fact - there’s evidence to suggest that ancient civilisations in Rome, Italy, utilised wicker for shelters and even buildings. 

Kubu Rattan Rectangular Log Basket with Wheels - shop now.

Wicker became popular in Europe much later

Wicker items became a sensation in Europe around the 17th century, which is when we saw an increase in demand for wicker baskets, as well as other wicker furnishings. 

The delay in popularity is widely thought to be because the ideal natural materials used to create wicker baskets didn’t grow in areas such as the UK. Instead, these materials flourished in locations where the conditions were optimal for sustainable growth - such as China, Indonesia, Japan and so on. 

Wicker products, such as wicker baskets, became increasingly popular during the 19th century throughout the Western world, which eventually led to becoming a staple in fashion - which was when the wicker purse and other accessories were introduced to the scene.  

In fact, during the Victorian era, many people preferred wicker-based products over their upholstery counterparts, as it was believed that they were the more hygienic and sanitary option. Plus, wicker products were renowned for being less costly and of higher quality than other readily available options.

Fun fact - The Art Nouveau style trend was born during the Victorian era, which was renowned for its extravagant wicker furniture features. 


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Wicker techniques have evolved

It’s believed that the first wicker technique used to create baskets was coiling in Ancient Egypt. 

Made with highly flexible, natural materials (such as grass) in the early days, coiling can be described as a wicker technique that works from a central point, which spirals outwards and upwards, resulting in the creation of the basket structure. It’s comparable to sewing, as the materials are wrapped and stitched together. 

As wicker basket popularity spread throughout the globe, naturally, the craft evolved and many beautiful techniques were invented. Not only that, but many cultures took inspiration from original methods, which is why it's said that vintage European wicker baskets appear inspired by what was considered Asian techniques. 

From the wattle technique and splinting, to plaiting, twining, and the weavers' technique, many style variations have a rich and beautiful historical significance

Many natural materials were used to create wicker baskets 

Of course, the most popular material associated with wicker baskets is rattan. However, many other materials were used, both now and at the very beginning of the wicker baskets' historical evolution. 

The natural materials used for the creation of wicker baskets ultimately depended on proximity. For example, it’s suggested that in ancient Egyptian times, wicker baskets were originally made with reed and swamp grasses, which grew alongside the river Nile. 

As wickerwork evolved, so did the flexibility of the natural materials that were commonly used, which varied depending on geographical location. However, nowadays, we see many materials used in the creation of wicker baskets, which include wood variations, rattan, willow, water hyacinth, bamboo, and so on. 

In more recent times, synthetic materials were also introduced, which included the use of plastics and resin. However, natural materials have always remained the most popular materials. Especially now, as our society becomes increasingly eco-conscious. 

Wicker baskets made from sustainably sourced and ethically produced natural materials will be more durable and long-lasting than their plastic counterparts, with a much less harmful impact on the environment. 

Fun fact - as time went on, wicker baskets were not seen as a commodity in ancient Egyptian times. Instead, if you were able to purchase a few wicker baskets or furniture pieces, it was widely considered a reflection of wealth. 

Set of 2 Square Seagrass Storage Baskets - shop now.

Wovenhill: the home of premium wicker baskets 

Ideal for adding a touch of natural beauty to your home, we offer an extensive selection of wicker basket variations here at Wovenhill. 

We’re dedicated to providing our customers with the best quality products, which is why we only use premium natural materials to create our range. So, when you shop with us - you’ll receive a wicker basket designed to stand the test of time, made from sustainably sourced and ethically produced materials. 

Explore a wide selection of sustainable storage solution options, specially designed for many purposes, made from either premium quality Rattan, Seagrass, Water Hyacinth, Bamboo, or Kubu Rattan. 

From our shelf and cabinet storage baskets and trunk and hamper selection to pet beds, log baskets, laundry solutions and more - we are confident that we have something to match all decor preferences and storage requirements. 

So, if you’re looking for the best variety on the market - explore the rest of our website today and discover premium wicker storage solutions at great prices. 

Shop luxury wicker baskets at Wovenhill today

For more home storage buying guides, information and advice, explore the Wovenhill blog
Wicker Dog Bed Buying Guide | Easy Eco-Friendly Home Storage Swaps | The Environmental Impact of Wicker vs Plastic
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