Tla-o-qui-aht whaler’s hat

RBCM 9736
Ellen Curley

This is one of three known whaler’s hats commissioned by Charles F. Newcombe between 1905 and 1910 from Ellen Curley, a basketmaker at the village of Opitsaht in Clayoquot Sound. At that time, the traditional Nuu-chah-nulth bulb-topped hats with designs showing the whale hunt had not been made for many years. Ellen Curley re-created the traditional form but, unlike those of the 18th century, her hats were made in the wrapped twined technique used to make curio baskets. The geometric designs and whaling scene woven into the hat had a contemporary look, as well. The designs encircling the brim represent the mountains that delineate Nuu-chah-nulth territories. The whale and the whaling canoe appear to chase each other around the sides of the hat.

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