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Jupyter notebook to explore the design of geometric patterns of Coast Salish woven baskets

Interactive notebooks for creating Coast Salish basket motifs

This website is the result of a collaboration between the Department of Mathematics at Simon Fraser University and the Tla’amin Nation. The collaboration was initiated by Veselin Jungic (SFU Department of Mathematics), Cedric Chauve (SFU Department of Mathematics) and Betty Wilson (Tla’amin Nation). The project benefited from contributions of several people, including Howell Tan, Jenifer Pham, Laura Gutierrez Funderburk (SFU Department of Mathematics) and Ms. Gail Blaine, and Mr. Tyler (Tla’amin nation). This project was funded by the Pacific Institute for Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences and Cybera, as part of the Callysto project, which aims to bring technology into Canadian classrooms.

We will be together in our teachings.

Land acknowledgements

This work was conducted in unceded territory of the Musqueam , Skxwú7mesh, Tsleil-Waututh, Kwikwetlem nations.

Demo Access

To access a demo of these notebooks, please visit the following buttons Open in Callysto to launch the notebooks on the Callysto Hub.

Open in Callysto Atomic motif’s: exploring a pattern’s smallest unit and geometrical operations

Open in Callysto Creating and combining patterns

Open in Callysto 3D visualization of baskets using patterns

You will need a Gmail or Outlook account to access the application.


Weaving is a craft with a long history in many places around the world, including the Pacific Northwest. Woven baskets, in particular, have long been important practical and cultural objects for BC Coast Salish people. An important feature of woven baskets is the occurrence of beautiful geometric motifs/patterns, such as the ones on the basket below, exhibited at the Museum of Anthropology.

The guiding idea of our work is that the motifs we observe on many Coast Salish baskets are highly regular and can be described very simply in terms of basic geometric shapes (broken lines, triangles, rectangles, …) and mathematical operations such as reflections and stacking. Following this observation, we designed two Jupyter notebooks inspired by baskets the Tla’amin Nation presented to us during a visit. .

Our notebooks are primarily intended to be used by students during classrooms activities, with the goal of illustrating how to use simple geometric concepts and operations to design realistic patterns. We also hope our notebooks can also be useful to artist weavers, who could use them to visualize new pattern ideas. These notebooks form only a first draft of a more general tool we expect to develop over the next few months. The main feature of our approach is to visualize basket motifs under the prism of geometric shapes and symmetries. This results in the possibility of designing complex motifs from simple ones,to which simple mathematical operators are applied. Our longer-term goal is to create more realistic motifs.

News Articles & Stories

Here are stories and news articles covering our application.

Burnaby Now “Burnaby math students help preserve traditional art of basketry”

Medium “Weaving A New Future For Indigenous Education” by Jimmy Fryers

The Source “Basket motifs illustrate mathematical concepts” by Betty Shea

The Peak: “SFU students utilize Indigenous basketry patterns to teach mathematical concepts” By Henry Tran

SFU News: “New app uses Indigenous basketry patterns to teach math concepts” By Diane Luckow

The Salish Sea Sentinel: “Digital weaving: Online tool teaches math using Tla’amin basket designs” By Cara McKenna

The Conversation: “Indigenous basket-weaving makes an excellent digital math lesson” By Dr. Veselin Jungic

SFU Department of Mathematics News: “New Collaboration with the Tla’amin Nation” By Dr. Veselin Jungic

Contact: Dr. Cedric Chauve and Dr. Veselin Jungic