The basketry hat above is a wonderful example of the skill of Haida artists. The hat itself is not in the collection of the Simon Fraser University Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, but the photographs of it have been donated to the museum. It was probably made around 1900 on Haida Gwaii, the Queen Charlotte Islands, northern British Columbia.
Haida hats were made from carefully split spruce roots and painted with an animal form. This hat is painted with a crouching frog design. The frog was an important family symbol. This hat is painted in what is called 'split representation', where the body of the animal is divided, wrapping around the hat to join at the head and pelvis. For more information on traditional Northwest Coast painting, go to the SFU Museum page on painted boxes.
The corner at the top has an extra warp element added to give it strength. This makes a line of slightly larger stitches around the edge of the top of the hat.
Halfway down the brim the maker changed the pattern from a simple twining to a concentric diamond pattern on the large brim.
The rim edge of the hat is carefully finished with a complex braid and will not unravel. Notice the 'skip stitch' twining, where the person who made the hat introduced a pattern into the weave on the lower brim.
The interior of the hat is carefully finished. The hat band is woven in one piece with the hat, not added on after the hat is finished. On the inside of the hat we can see the change from plain twining to the 'skip stitch' concentric diamond pattern in the lower brim.
Enjoy the image gallery of hats below!
Copyright, SFU Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, 2000. Original web page and photography by Dr. Barbara J. Winter. These hats are in the collections of museums across Canada and the US. The SFU Museum holds only the photographs. Adapted for AEM by Melissa Rollit, 2016.