Enquiry about object: 6914

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    Tlingit Woven Spruce Root Fan

    Tlingit People, Southeast Alaska, United States
    circa 1900

    height: 41.4cm, width: 23.5cm, weight: 63g



    private collection, London.

    – scroll down to see further images –

    This fine fan is from the Tlingit people of southeast Alaska. It has been woven from young, dried spruce roots. Both sides are decorated with two rows of killer whale teeth motifs in warm hues of red, orange, yellow, and brown.

    The Tlingit produced fine examples of two-strand twining from spruce roots. Most known for their baskets, they also produced other items such as this fan.

    Tlingit women collected the young roots of the Sitka Spruce in spring. The bark was removed from the roots, which were left to dry over the summer. Then they were split so that they were ready for weaving. Natural dyes were obtained from huckleberry, sulphuric mud, moss, hemlock bark, and alder bark steeped in urine. Commercial aniline dyes were introduced from the 1890s.

    See Volger (1999, p. 197) for a basket of woven spruce roots with similar hues and geometric motifs.

    The fan here has obvious age and is in very fine condition.


    Volger, G., (ed.), Kunst der Welt: im Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum fur Volkerkunde, Koln, Prestel Verlag, 1999.

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