Above and below: Four Tataviam baskets from Bowers Cave in the San Martin Mountains (present-day Val Verde), depicted in Mason (1904).
Photographs by C.C. Willoughby, who in 1904 was the assistant curator of the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, where the Bowers Cave artifacts reside. Willoughby had
joined the Peabody in 1891-92 and worked his way up the ranks, becoming chief assistant in 1894, assistant curator in 1899, assistant director in 1913 and museum director in
1915. He retired from the position in 1928.
The Bowers Cave artifacts include the only confirmed examples of Tataviam basketry. The baskets and other cultural materials were probably deposited in the cache cave
between 1802 and 1811, when local Indian villagers were brought by Spanish soldiers and missionaries to the Mission San Fernando Rey de España. The materials were discovered
by some young ranchers in 1884 and sold to Stephen Bowers, who collected Native American cultural materials from graves and other sites throughout Southern California for the
Smithsonian Instituion, the Peabody and other East Coast museums that were competing with institutions in France, Spain and elsewhere for prestige. Today the methods employed by Bowers and others
Plates 201 and 202 in Mason's seminal work on Native American basketry show four Bowers Cave baskets (two each). Mason's captions to both plates read:
"Ancient coiled bowls, from San Martin Mountain, Cal., in Peabody Museum."
The relevant part of the text appears on pages 429 and 430 of the 1988 republication. Mason writes:
Plate 201, from photographs by C.C. Willoughby, presents two very ancient tray-shaped baskets or plaques from the cave in San Martin Mountains, Los Angeles County,
California, which were collected by Stephen Bowers. The Catalogue No. is 39245 in the Peabody Museum, Cambridge, Massachussets. (See also Plate 202.)
The upper figure [Plate 201, top photo] is a fine old example of coiled weaving in the three-rod type, the stitch interlocking with the upper element.
The lower figure [Plate 201, bottom photo] is an example of the same kind of coiling, but the surface has been covered with asphalt, so that the texture is almost
Although Mason doesn't specify, the basket in the top photo of Plate 202 (below) appears to be Cat. No. 39242.