Chilkat Robe

Chilkat Robe

On loan to the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Made in the late 19th century. The Chilkat robe was hand-twined of cedar bark fiber and mountain goat wool. Traditionally, Chilkat robe designs were based on pattern boards that are passed down through families, or would be provided to the weaver when it was commissioned.  Men create the painted pattern boards and women used the pattern boards as reference to create the intricate patterns on the robe (also referred to as regalia).  The origins of this type of weaving are from the Nass and Skeena Rivers area in British Columbia.  The dance robes were a status symbol made from valuable materials.  One robe could take six to twelve months of continuous weaving.  The weaver's family would receive help around the house, such as cooking and cleaning, for that length of time.  Today, a Chilkat robe can take upwards of two and a half years to create.
 
The center design of this robe is a diving whale with two ravens facing inward (when worn they would face outward, which is unusual).  The central rectangle is the whale's body, while the other abstract designs directly around it depict other parts of the whale.