Synopses & Reviews
The Chilkat Dancing Blanket is the life story of a magnificent woven robe which graced the shoulders of Indian nobility from Yakutat, Alaska to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. From the legendary origins of this weaving, the story unfolds to tell of the women who wove it, of the source and inspiration for the designs which adorn it, and of the pride and esteem in which it was held by the society which gave it birth. The Dancing Blanket was a robe reserved for ceremony. The remarkable photographs of Tony Hunt performing the Headdress Dance afford a rare opportunity to see this blanket in its full glory, alive and dancing.
The story does not stop with an overview of the Dancing Blanket, but delves into the mysteries of its creation. Mountain goat wool and cedar bark were spun and dyed and then woven into intricate, stylized designs. In this magnificently illustrated text, author Cheryl Samuel presents a detailed description of the weaving techniques which were perfected by the Tlingit women. Photographs of Dancing Blankets from many museum collections and of weavings in progress are knitted together with beautiful drawings in order to illustrate this complicated process. The Chilkat Dancing Blanket interweaves legend, history, and technique and is presented in honor of the women who created this exquisite art form.
About the Author
Cheryl Samuel, weaver and teacher of weaving and art, was introduced by Bill Holm to the weaving of the Chilkat Indian women. Her involvement in this beautiful form of weaving has grown from an initial technical curiosity, through practical and academic research, to the present day, which finds her weaving on commission for art collectors and for native artists who wish to own and dance in this stunning traditional dress. In 1980 she received a grant from the National Museums of Canada to travel to the major ethnographic collections of North America, Europe, and Russia. During this trip, her knowledge of the weaving techniques crystallized through careful study of many of the finest of old Dancing Blankets. Most recently, Cheryl Samuel was invited to display her Chilkat weaving at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History.
Cheryl Samuel teaches at Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific, Victoria, British Columbia, where she served for some years as Director of Fine Arts. She lives in Victoria with her husband and their three children.