Ravenstail Weaving

According to the University of Alaska, Ravenstail weaving is an ancient style of twining and surface braiding by native peoples along the Pacific Northwest coast until the late 1700s, when it evolved into Chilkat weaving, and the Ravenstail tradition was nearly lost. Both Ravenstail and Chilkat are used for robes, dance aprons and other ceremonial regalia. Ravenstail robes have bold geometric patterns, predominantly in black and white, while Chilkat robes have curvilinear representations of clan crests. By 1980, only fifteen examples of Ravenstail survived as robes and fabric scraps in museum collections across the world. Cheryl Samuel traveled around the world to study these pieces and taught her herself through trial and error how to weave them. Since Cheryl published her book, “The Raven’s Tail” in 1987 and began teaching, the Ravenstail tradition has been revived by numerous weavers, including John Beard and Tlingit weaver Teri Rofkar, a member of the T'ak dein taan (Raven) Clan, who received an NEA National Heritage Fellowship in 2009 for her work in preserving traditional weaving techniques.

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