Spindle Whorl

CMC PCD 94-609-019

Salish; Vancouver Island, British Columbia; wood. CMC VII-G-6

Salish women were considered virtually unrivalled in their ability to produce beautiful textiles that had social and spiritual significance. The ancient art of weaving Salish-style blankets was revived in the 1960s and it continues as a vibrant expression of cultural identity.

Many Salish spindle whorls have sophisticated and powerful carved designs -- human, animal and geometric. The whorl was placed on a wooden spindle to add the weight needed to maintain the spinning motion, and to prevent the wool from falling off the rod as it was being spun. As the whorl turned, the designs would blur together, mesmerizing the spinner. This trance state was considered vital: it gave the spinner the ability to create textiles imbued with special powers.