The Unity Robe

raven's tail weaving

The Unity Robe is a creation meant to offer up the artist's respect. Both respect for the nation that she comes from and for the great honor of receiving a Residency Fellowship in the Southwest, a land famous for the skill of its weavers. The border of the robe is woven in the art form known as Raven's Tail. This is a Northern Pacific Coastal style of geometric weaving. What makes it so difficult and time consuming is the fact that the warp strands hang loosely over a bar within a wooden frame. This is known as gravity- weighted weaving as there is no tension on the warps. The tension for the weaving is pro- vided by the weaver's hands and body as a whole. The border is woven in respect to the fully woven Chief's Robes that were woven in the centuries prior to European contact.

After European contact and the introduction of factory produced cloth, First Nations people adapted the cloth to make robes by applying animal and figural crests outlined with buttons. The centre design field of The Unity Robe is made with respect to the historical importance of the Button Robes. As was traditional, the artist hand-spun the wool warps on her thigh. The wool for the warps were commercially purchased before being re-spun by the artist. The wool for the wefts was commercially purchased but hand-dyed to meet the specification of the artist. The colors were chosen for two-fold reasons. The Haida valued and still value today the trade beads that were introduced after contact. The most valued were the Russian Blue and the Red beads with white centres known as White- Hearts. The color palette was chosen out of respect for those trade bead colors as well as the red, white and blue that are important in American Indian cultures and that became the colors of the American flag.

The designs also reflect the artist's respect for her territory and the territory of the South West which she is a guest in. The top border represents the geese that migrate between the North and the South and are at home in both, with no border. The side pattern is known as All the Weavers and is used by many Raven's Tail weavers. The artist wished to reflect her respect for the generations of weavers in her family and her respect for the weavers of this territory, traditional and contemporary. The centre design is that of an eagle in flight. This is to represent the Haida eagle which is one of two main crests of the Haida and to reflect the importance of the Eagle in Native American culture and the American Eagle itself. The traditional fur wrapping across the top was hand-cut by the artist and applied in a traditional fashion. The textile backing was attached by hand by the artist and the eagle overlay was also hand-stitched by the artist.

Lisa Hageman Yahgulanaas
Kuuyas 7waahlal Gidaak

*** This Robe is part of a private collection. Please contact Lisa for ordering a commissioned robe: