Painted woven hats

CMC S92-4284; PCD 94-699-029

Haida; collected at Masset in 1911 by C. C. Perry; cedar bark.

Early engravings by Russian artists depict north coast chiefs wearing woven hats painted with formline crest designs at the period of first contact. Haida women excelled in basketry, making not only woven hats but baskets and mats; hats were woven on a stand with a wooden form appropriate to each size and shape. Male artists painted the hats with the crests of the commissioning family; the colours of paint were restricted to red and black (with occasional touches of blue or green).

CMC S92-4285; PCD 94-699-030


In early historic times, Haida women also sold their hats to Europeans and Americans who were trading or travelling in Haida territory. Painted woven hats became a popular tourist item late in the nineteenth century, and a number of leading Haida artists of the era painted many wonderful examples.

Isabella, the wife of Charles Edenshaw, was a very skilled hat weaver; she and her husband spent many winters producing painted hats for sale, including the example at top. The four-pointed star with bicoloured points is the signature of Charles Edenshaw.