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Prints and patterns: Chilkat Blanket.

Chilkat Ceremonial Dance Blanket. Alaska (Tlingit), mid to late-nineteenth century. Mountain goat wool, cedar bark fiber, otter fur, dyes, 64 x 48" (163 x 122 cm) Gift of Dr. and Mrs. W. W. Seely, 1888.282.

About the Art

A symbol of great prestige in the nineteenth century, the Chilkat blanket was an important part of a chief's ceremonial dress in the Tlingit and neighboring tribes of the Alaskan roast The dance blanket, called nakheen (fringe about the body) by the Tlingit, was an indicator of rank and wealth. The term blanket is a misnomer; the nakheen was a ceremonial garment designed to wrap around the body. When the wearer danced, the blanket's long fringe swayed with the movement.

Woven of hard-wearing mountain goat hair and cedar bark, the Chilkat blanket was designed by the men of the tribe and woven by the women. This type of weaving originated with the Tsimhian people, but later spread to the Tlingits through trade and marriage. The design of the blanket was prescribed, consisting of a central totem and flanking motifs in a mirror image. This blanket depicts the clan emblem of the diving killer whale, flanked by the crest of the raven. The animal subjects are broken up into basic body parts (ears, teeth, fins, eyes), which have been rearranged.

About the Artist

The Tlingit Indians were a tribe of Native Americans who lived in the area of northwestern Canada that borders with southeast Alaska. When the Russian Baranov landed at the site of St. Michael (now Sitka) he was met by the Tlingit Indians who lived there. The tribe lived in well-built wooden houses, built wooden boats and canoes, carved totem poles, and were more advanced that the Aleuts and other Alaskan Native Americans living in the area. The Ilingit consider themselves as members of one group or clan and share social customs that apply to all Tlingit, whether they live in this area or not.

Things to Consider

The Chilkat Blanket depicts the Tlingit clan emblem of the diving killer whale, flanked by the crest of the raven. If you were a member of the Tlingit tribe, what animal forms would you choose to represent your family? Create a design for a Chilkat blanket that represents these forms. Explain to the class why you have chosen this shape to represent your family.

GalleryCards sumitted by the Cincinnati Museum of Art.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:GalleryCard
Publication:School Arts
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Previous Article:Indian vase and lid, Worcester Royal Porcelain Company Limited.
Next Article:Prints and patterns: Shaped Carpet.

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