Monday, December 28, 2009

Salish Spindle Whorl

It has been a busy Christmas season, hence a lack of blogging. However, we purchased a special item this year, a drum made by Richard Aiscaican who makes superb drums. His attention to detail marks him as a master drum maker. Check out the photo of the sides and back of the drum where you can see the patterns created from the even application and pressure between the sinew and the drum skin.

The image on the drum is painted by Joel Good a Snuneymuxw member. It is based on a Salish spindle whorl, a crouching naked figure (needing warm fabic?) with two sea serpents wolves facing each other at the top (edited to reflect Joel's correction -thanks Joel). This is from the Snuneymuxw creation story. Apparently sea serpents are more common in the Nanaimo area than elsewhere. The mouth of the human would be where the spindle shaft would be inserted.
Below is a picture of a similar whorl design from the Canadian Museum of Nature. The Snuneymuxw First Nations Band Council uses the spindle design as a logo as can be seen in the photo of the Band Office window on the web page describing spindles.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Coast Salish Wool Dog - What did it look like?

As promised, I am adding answers, or at least more information, about the Salish wool dog as I find it. So what did it look like? In Paul Kane's painting "A Woman Weaving a Blanket" now at the Royal Ontario Museum, he paints a small white dog, almost poodle like. However, the painting is based on some sketches and his sketches of dogs look different.

Susan Crockford, an expert in archaeological analysis of bones, has done extensive research on the indigenous dogs of the Pacific Northwest Coast, has a sketch on that accompanies her monograph on 'Osteometry of Makah and Coast Salish Dogs' that, knowing her expertise, is probably a good likeness (the dogs on the right).

On a side note, on the Snuneymuwx First Nations web site, the Salish Spindle is discussed, and they mention that Cameron Island was one of the islands used to keep the Salish Wool dog breed separated from other dogs. This makes sense as Cameron Island (which is no longer an island) is very close to where the Solexwel village was, allowing easy access to care and feed for the dogs. There is also on that page, a close up of a diorama that shows two dogs, that may be more accurate than the Paul Kane painting. These dogs also look like the sketch on the right.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The oldest known fibers in the world

The oldest known spun fibers in the world has been found in a cave and they are dyed black, grey, turquoise and pink AND they are over 30,000 years old! Here's an article on it.

Image of microscopic fiber samples courtesy of Science/AAAS

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Totem Raising and unveiling

A Totem pole was raised this week at VIU in the library. I am not sure how they got it into the library and then raised once in the building. An amazing feat of engineering. Apparently there will soon be a video showing how they did it on youtube. I'll link it when I find it.

Gary Mason performed a ceremony and Jimmy Johnny the master carver told the story of Thunderbird and Killer Whale.