Unknown maker, Chilkat Tlingit
Cedar bark, mountain goat wool, blue commercial wool
Collected by Cornelius R. Agnew ca. 1887
American Museum of Natural History 16.1/2502

Produced by Chilkat Tlingit as well as other Native women, naxeen (dancing robes or blankets) depict abstract crest imagery and are worn as regalia, inherited as clan wealth, and displayed in mortuary practices. This “classic” robe is almost identical in its conventionalized design to many other known blankets, including one at AMNH. Different women may have translated this motif, often interpreted as a diving whale, into woven form based on the same painted pattern board—a direct means for producing multiple versions. But as Kwakwaka’wakw weaver Donna Cranmer suggests, skilled weavers also could have worked directly from preexisting robes. On these two examples, diagonal lazy lines along the top borders run in different directions, suggesting individual hands, as do variations in the central face. Distinct checkered tie-offs on either side of the long bottom fringe act like a signature of particular weavers. Franz Boas described the formal ambiguity of such robes, juxtaposing different interpretations of the same design, which may have made them attractive as objects of exchange both within Native communities and among Euro-American collectors. These marks of process and interpretation complicate our understanding of material translation from painting to weaving, from “original” to “duplicate,” and from one culture to multiple others.

Click here for a discussion about this object (Donna Cranmer)

Tags for Interactive Tag Cloud: diffusion, misidentification, mortuary, multiples, Chilkat robe