Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog

Accentuating Tlingit Traditions

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Chilkat Weaving Laws: Part II

March 26th, 2013 by Clarissa

Looking through a window of Chilkat spirit

As I mentioned in my last blog entry, my teacher, the late Jennie Thlunaut taught me Chilkat “laws” or guidelines for weavers.  She had indicated that many customs went by the wayside when the white man came.  She said that when a woman was preparing all her materials to weave a robe, the weaver also prepared her mind and body.  She prayed and refrained from certain foods and took care of her physical body.   Once she began weaving the robe and during the entire time of the actual weaving of a Chilkat robe, the weaver refrained from any intimate relations with her man.  When she told me this, immediately I wondered why we would have that custom.

Years later, when I was demonstrating Chilkat weaving during a Q & A period, an audience member had asked about any customs and laws pertaining to Chilkat weaving.  When I had mentioned this particular custom, I was surprised at the immediate responses from the chuckling audience.  They included:

“Oh,….no wonder why there aren’t very many robes out there!”

“Oh,…no wonder why there aren’t very many Chilkat weavers!”

“Oh really?…I think I’ll become a weaver!”

“Oh…what a perfect method of birth control…!”

“Whoa, there’s no way I’ll support my wife to become a weaver…!”

“No Wonder some weavers can weave a full size ceremonial robe in 2 or 3 months!”

If you have any responses and would like to share them, please feel free to leave a comment…!

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