Detail shot of Himwitsa gallery

Leana Jumbo - Rare Maquinna Hat



Lena is from the Ahousat First Nations Territory Located in British Columbia Nuu-chah-nulth for hat – Ciapuxas pronounced seeya-poks. The Northwest Coast aboriginal society was based on a strict hierarchical structure of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth culture and was divided into three tiers—an elite ruling class, a class of commoners, and a slave class comprised primarily of captives taken in battle. In this society, hereditary leaders such as Maquinna controlled and distributed every available resource in their home region. This hat was worn by chiefs and whalers in the village only. The material used to weave this hat is red cedar bark which is stripped from the tree in mid-June. A 10-12 inch strip is taken from the north side of the tree and may be 20-30 feet in length. The bark is then taken off the strip until the fine part of the cedar becomes soft and flexible. The design is beautifully illustrated with four canoes, four Nuu-chah-nulth Whalers throwing harpoons and four grey whales all intricately woven with black swamp grass. Above the canoes you will find seal floats which were used to keep the whale afloat after being harpooned. These floats were made from skin turned inside out of a seal. Each of the canoes has seven men, six of them are seated behind the harpooner. The whaling ceremony lasted for eight months to one year. The whalers were forbidden to be intimate with their wives during this ceremony. It was believed the whaler had to be pure of human contact before setting out for the hunt. To help the whalers out with this difficult task, thistle was placed between the sleeping quarters of the husband and wife. As part of the ceremony the whalers bathed themselves in secret pools and prayed to Nass (The Creator) during the time the moon was flourishing. After bathing themselves, they would wipe themselves with cedar branches to help cleanse their bodies. Each of the whalers had different places where they bathed. This was a very sacred part of the ceremony in that no person was allowed to see the bathing take place. People that were caught bathing were killed because this was the order of life. Before the whalers left for a hunt, a snail was placed on a round smooth rock. If the snail crawled off the rock, then the people knew the whaling expedition would be a short, safe one. After the whale was harpooned and killed the heart was placed on the bow of the canoe. The whale was divided amongst the villagers in order of title and rank. The Maquinna Hat truly symbolizes a history of our Nuu-Chah-Nulth People. The measurements for this Maquinna hat is 36” in circumference at the bottom tapering up and is 8” in height. Leana used cedar bark and natural dyes.

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Category:Woven Baskets