Posted by R. John Howe on 10-16-2003 03:08 PM:

Some Other Items in the Potlatch Costume

Dear folks –

Although the Chilkat dancing blanket was the most important textile item worn by the nobles at the potlatch gatherings, it was by no means the only one worn.

There were shirts with sleeves:

This one is trimmed in otter fur.

There were sleeveless tunics:

Here is the back of this same sleeveless tunic. Note that it has more geometric designs on it.

There were aprons almost as big as the Chilkat dancing blankets.

The ends of many of the fringe strands of the aprons were decorated with puffin beaks. (Poor puffins.)

There were also leggings.

Notice that the designs on this pair of leggings are not the same. This likely indicates that they were made by cutting down some larger Chilkat textile of this type.

The legging below is one of the only ones known to have been woven as a legging.

Sometimes leggings extended well down the leg and had “a fishtail extension that covered the top of the bare foot.” Leggings were also often decorated with “puffin beaks or deer toes.”

Sleeveless shirts were also sometimes composed of pieces of Chilkat dancing blanket fragments. The man in the photo below is wearing one made in this way.

At the top of the image below is a drawing of a four-cornered hat that was often part of the potlatch costume. The bottom image is of an ear decoration also worn.

In the drawing below on the left is a longish, cartridge belt with it rectangular compartment. It has a flap decorated with a formline design. To the right is a drawing of a shaman’s medicine pouch with a ghost face design.

This drawing shows how one noble looked in his potlatch costume.

These ancillary items show that the Chilkat dancing blanket was not an isolated instance of Chilkat textiles with formline designs.


R. John Howe