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March 02, 2006

Northwest Robes On View

A Companion Display for Toi Maori: Eternal Thread
Now through May 29, 2006

Seattle— The Burke Museum is showcasing Northwest Robes, the best of contemporary Northwest Coast robes from its renowned Native American art collection as a complement to its new exhibit Toi Maori: The Eternal Thread. Much like the Maori work on display, these Northwest Coast robes highlight the fusion of ancient tradition with contemporary weaving practices and patterns.

The ceremonial robes of the Northwest Coast are much more than garments, they are emblems of status used in ceremony and products of great artistry. Weavers have been important culture-bearers for the Northwest Coast for thousands of years. In the 19th and 20th centuries, intense cultural contact with missionaries, settlers, and government agents caused significant cultural and economic disruptions for Northwest Coast communities. The ceremonial display of status was discouraged in the United States and outlawed in Canada. As a result, many communities stopped producing ceremonial robes. However, the art has not been lost. Today it is being revitalized by contemporary weavers, bringing new life to the ancient traditions of ceremony, status, and artistry.

With one of the world’s largest collections of Northwest Coast native art and a long history of leadership in this field, the Burke Museum is uniquely prepared to present these works and their cultural significance to the public. Several of the region’s most respected Native weavers are serving as project contributors and advisors, including Bill James (Lummi), Evelyn Vanderhoop (Haida), Robyn and Debra Sparrow (Musqueam), and Susan Pavel (Skokomish/Hawaiian).

Works on display include:
Tree of Life Robe by Elizabeth Wamiss, Kwakwaka’wakw
Dogfish Robe by Dororthy Grant and Robert Davidson, Haida
Damascus Three-Panel Robe by Damascus Ravenstail Weavers
Mountain Goat Wool Robe by Bill and Fran James, Lummi
Ravenstail Tattoo Pattern Robe and Potlatch Pouch by Marie Oldfield, Haida/Tsimshian
Mourning Star Blanket by Debra and Robyn Sparrow, Musqueam
Eagle and Whale Naaxein by Evelyn Vanderhoop, Haida

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