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Woven Cedar Hat

Curated Submission
Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Early 1900s
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
34 x 30 x 16
Materials & techniques
Cedar; Twined, woven
Kathleen Wilson Marpole
Delta Museum and Archives Society DE1995.12.2
Cedar is an ideal material for protection, and use of it in garments can be traced back to many First Nations that still reside in present-day British Columbia. When cedar becomes wet it expands and creates a waterproof seal. This is particularly helpful in the frequently damp climate of the Canadian west coast. A variety of weaving styles are found in cedar hats, depending on the region and community that produced it.
This hat is a fine example of the value of tight weaving. Cedar bark strips were taken from the tree and then “combed” to remove some of the cellulose and make the fibres more pliable. These hats were sized to fit by using a separate woven band on the interior brim that was woven in place to an installed cedar “shelf.” The brim of the hat was finished with a twisting twine.
People from the same Nation could identify each other by the style and adornment of the cedar hat worn. Likewise, hat design could also indicate a stranger or potential trading partner in their midst. This particular hat, created by Harriet Ross Wilson of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, is highly reminiscent of the Nuu Chah Nulth style, owing to the use of tightly woven thin strips of cedar.
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