Monday, November 8, 2010

Tlingit Blankets

Tlingit Blanket Regalia. Photo from Flickr.

The Tlingits were a native American tribe that held a matrilineal society and lived around present day Alaska. Art was an important part of their society; what they wore often reflected their status and power. Their marriages were arranged, and the man moved into his wife's house. To show his new status, his wife or daughter would weave them a “a special ceremonial blanket...” that “might take the entire winter or
longer to spin.”

Tlingit Blanket 3. Photo from Flickr.
The blankets were crafted without looms and were made of mountain goat wool died black, yellow, and blue-green. The designs often had a sacred animal or event that was important to the tribe, such as hunting and other feats of strength. Symmetrical designs and geometrical patterns filled the rich tapestries that the men wore to ceremonies. When they would dance, the long, trailing fringe would accentuate their movements. “The blankets, shaped like inverted house fronts, translated the social symbolism of the architecture to a personal scale and context.”

O'Riley,Michael Kampen. Art Beyond the West. 2nd ed. New Jersey: Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2001.

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