Native American


Artist: Unkown
Culture/People: Tlingit or Haida
Place: Alaska or British Columbia
Media: Mountain goat and commercial sheep’s wool, cedar bark, dyes
Dims: 48 x 61 in.
Date: c. 1850
RTC No: NA1313
Gift of Ralph T. Coe, 2011


The robe has an uncommon design composed in the “classic” arrangement of a central panel, with flanking symmetrical profile panel completing the design field. At the top of the design is a sea monster known in the Haida language as “Wasgo,” while the side panels defy any direct interpretation regarding a known crest animal image. The design of the robe is highly detailed, suggesting the robe was composed during a time when skilled painters were readily available to paint the pattern board from which such a weaving is executed. After the smallpox pandemic of 1862, the number of skilled artists was severely reduced. Most of the original yarn is commercial sheep’s wool yarn, while the yellow border is all native mountain goat yarn. Commercially produced yarn was broadly available beginning in the 1830s and is perhaps a decision of prestige and wealth, the finished robe validating the worldliness of its owner and wearer. —Ralph T. Coe

I connected to this piece instantly. I learned that mountain goat is a prominent source used to create the robe. I felt closer to it from discovering this because of the connections I have with the animal myself. I read that the mountain goat holds significance as it can travel through multiple realms. The horns represent power and supernatural ability. They serve as guardians especially for shaman. —Ashlyn Lavato (Santa Clara Pueblo), Hands-On Student Curator, 2018

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