Salish Blankets: Robes of Protection and Transformation, Symbols of Wealth

Salish Blankets: Robes of Protection and Transformation, Symbols of Wealth

Salish Blankets: Robes of Protection and Transformation, Symbols of Wealth

Salish Blankets: Robes of Protection and Transformation, Symbols of Wealth

Synopsis

Salish Blankets presents a new perspective on Salish weaving through technical and anthropological lenses. Worn as ceremonial robes, the blankets are complex objects said to preexist in the supernatural realm and made manifest in the natural world through ancestral guidance. The blankets are protective garments that at times of great life changes--birth, marriage, death--offer emotional strength and mental focus. A blanket can help establish the owner's standing in the community and demonstrate a weaver's technical expertise and artistic vision. The object, the maker, the wearer, and the community are bound and transformed through the creation and use of the blanket.

Drawing on first-person accounts of Salish community members, object analysis, and earlier ethnographic sources, the authors offer a wide-ranging material culture study of Coast Salish lifeways. Salish Blankets explores the design, color/pigmentation, meaning, materials, and process of weaving and examines its historical and cultural contexts.

Excerpt

You should think about blankets as merged objects. They are alive
because they exist in the spirit world. They are the animal. They are part of
the hunter; they are part of the weaver; they are part of the wearer.

— chief janice george, Squamish

The Salish blanket, worn as a ceremonial robe, is an object of extraordinary complexity. Said to exist in the supernatural realm, these robes are made manifest in the natural world through Ancestral guidance. Wearing a woven blanket during ritual is transformative, moving the individual from the domain of the mundane to a sacred space. They are protective garments that at times of great changes in a person’s life— celebrating a birth, participating in a marriage, mourning a death— offer emotional strength. a well-made blanket can raise the owner’s prestige in the community and demonstrate a weaver’s technical expertise along with her finely honed artistic vision. the object, the maker, the wearer, and the community itself are bound and transformed through the creation and use of the Salish blanket.

A shared interest in Salish weaving brought the authors together, and for several years we have researched, traveled, discussed, and collaborated in order to gain a better understanding of these fascinating textiles. We studied fabrics in museum collections in Canada, the United States, and Great Britain. Libraries were searched for publications and archives were examined . . .

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