Matting made of bast, that is the lime or linden tree. Dutch, bast, bark; Swedish, basta, to bind; so called because used for binding. “Ribbons from the linden tree give a wreath no charms to me.” The shepherds of Carniola make a cloth of the outer bark. The inner bark is made into Russian matting, and is serviceable to gardeners for packing, tying up plants, protecting trees, etc. Other materials are now used for the same purposes, and for hassocks, etc., but the generic word bass designates both bast-bark and all its imitations.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894