1 Functions of Art_ Master weavers in British Colombia

24 May

NLakaì'pamux, Canadian Museum of Civilization

Functions of Art – artistic expression of time and place

The NLaka’pamux were master weavers who produced fine garments of elegant design. Woven clothing was used as a replacement when buckskin was scarce, in hot or rainy weather and was worn on certain ritual or ceremonial occasions. The bark and inner fibres of Indian-hemp, willow, cedar and sagebrush provided the main sources of weaving materials. A black coloured lichen (Bryoria fremontii) was used occasionally for vests and moccasins, and rushes and long stemmed grasses for capes. Animal fibres, especially mountain goat wool, were spun and woven into blankets and robes in some of the NLaka’pamux communities.

Woven fabric is made from the interlinking of threads. The warp is a set of long strands cut to the desired length and width of the fabric. The strands are bound together with a crossing thread called a weft. NLaka’pamux garments were usually woven with a technique called twining. To begin, a long weft thread is doubled and looped around the outside warp thread. The thread at the back is brought to the front, and the front thread moves to the back, crossing as they pass between each warp strand. Between each row the weft threads wrap around each other along the selvage, creating a neatly twisted edge.

“I used to remember my grandmother [spinning hemp]… especially in the evening when we’d be sitting around, or any time of the day when she needs to do it. She fixes it up, and then she rolls it and then keeps on adding more if they’re going to make rope, adding and rolling it, adding and rolling it.”
Mandy Brown, Lytton, British Columbia, 1992

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