What is Ravenstail Weaving?
Kay Field Parker will be teaching Ravenstail Weaving this summer.
Ravenstail Weaving is an ancient style of twining that creates dramatic geometric patterns in black and white with splashes of yellow highlights. This design forces your eyes to dance across the designs.
This style of twining was done along our northwest coast until the late 1700s when it evolved into Chilkat Weaving and that “form line” style of weaving began to flourish. Ravenstail Weaving “slept” for almost 200 years until its revival by Cheryl Samuel in the 1980s when she published her book, “The Raven’s Tail” and began teaching.
Only 15 examples of this style of weaving survived; some mere scraps of robes, some complete robes that were spread across the world in museums and addition to three sketches by early explorers. One sketch shows a robe on Chief Kotlean of Sitka, one on “Aichunk”, an Aliut Chief, and there is a picture of Chief Peter Ni.sy,qt, Tsimshian wearing a Ravenstail Robe. From this, we know these beautiful Ravenstail were prized all along Alaska’s coast, but we know little about the weavers.
What we do know about the weavers is that they were immensely talented, not only with their hands but with their eyes, and minds, their memories and imaginations, and their sense of design and balance.