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Spruce-root hat

Kwii.aang (Isabella Edenshaw, Haida, 1858–1926) and Da.axiigang (Charles Edenshaw, Haida, 1839–1920), spruce-root hat
ca. 1900
Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia
Cedar bark, spruce root, paint
21 x 43 cm
E. M. Brodhurst Collection

“My mother used to weave baskets and hats all winter long. When she was going to start her weaving she soaked the roots overnight, so they’d be easy to work. She’d get up early in the morning and cook and after everyone was finished eating, she’d go to work splitting the roots again and weaving them into a hat or basket. She worked all day long, day after day.…It was just like having a business. When she finished a hat she put it in a dark place and then my dad would paint a design on it.”
—Florence Edenshaw Davidson, 1982

This spruce root hat woven by Isabella Edenshaw demonstrates great knowledge and craftsmanship that was developed over the centuries. There are multiple layers of creativity happening here. First, to gather the roots, which can only be found in sandy areas. Second, the labor-intensive preparation of the roots. Third, creating the shape of the hat. And fourth, the pattern created within the weaving.

The beautiful Raven painting done by Isabella’s husband, Charles, adds dimension to the shape. It is always exciting to examine her subtle creativity woven into her hats, baskets, and mats. Her mastery and attention to detail are absolutely flawless and inspiring to the viewer.

—Robert Davidson (Haida), master carver of totem poles, printmaker, painter, and jeweler

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