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PH: 250-842-0216
FAX: 250-842-2219

P.O. Box 418
Hazelton, BC
V0J 1Y0

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Mini Gallery

Carving the loom sticks.

Patty is mastering her carving skills

Its the end of the day and Kendall is checking our progress

Linda is hard at work weaving

A closer look at Patsy's work

Thank you, please visit us again!

The First Peoples' Heritage Language & Culture Council

Tumpline Weaving Workshop

It was through a conversation with an elder that we learned about tumpline weaving. The elder explained to us how she remembered doing tumpline weaving as a little girl but she no longer remembered how, as this was so long ago.


Making the Tumpline Loom

Kendall J Mowatt: Traditional Gitxsan ArtistBefore we could host the tumpline weaving course we needed to learn how to build a tumpline loom. This was a challenge as we were not familiar with this traditional technology.

Local Gitxsan Artist Kendall J. Mowatt found a loom once used by his grandmother. From this sample, Kendall instructed several youth how to create seven tumpline looms.

During construction of the tumpline looms, there were many questions as to how this loom would work as just looking at the loom did not generate ideas as to how they functioned. Days later, a sample strung with yarn was brought in and a brief demonstration occurred. This generated understanding and excitement.

A picture of Tumpline Weaving

The loom-making crew checking the days progressOne hurdle was the sheer number of rods needed for each tumpline loom. Gitxsan artists know the amount of work needed during creation processes; and to create a loom the traditional way required much carving and sanding. Our youth were challenged by the amount of carving and sanding needed - and a great amount of teasing was enjoyed by wanting to use modern day tools to create a traditional item.

No worries though, our group created seven looms and not one contemporary tool was used.

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Tumpline Weaving

Tumpline weaving is a Gitxsan Art process in danger of becoming extinct. Through research, we learned that tumpline weaving is part of our Gitxsan heritage; and that tumpline weaving was used in various items such as clothing, regalia, cradles and carrying our baskets on us when we harvested food (was considered our rope).

Tumpline Weaving Instructor Doris with student MichelleAt the outset, we could not find a tumpline weaver and we were chilled at the thought of losing this knowledge due to lack of community memory. We went back to our elders to see if they knew of anyone who retained this knowledge. Our elders pointed us to Doris, a language instructor and 'Master Tumpline Weaver.' Doris agreed to share this valuable knowledge with others. Here Doris is explaining to Michelle that the yarn must be kept taut for an even weave.

A top view of weaving TumplineGaining participants to partake of this workshop was a challenge as people did not know what tumpline weaving was. Regularly, I would have to explain that tumpline weaving was part of our traditional heritage and that this was our rope in days past.

This course proved interesting from the outset as Doris worked people through the process's of braiding ties, measuring out long lengths of yarn in conjunction with the spaces and holes of the tumpline loom, stringing the loom, and finally Tumpline Weaving stretched out accross the roomweaving. These process's, not easily obvious, were simple once shown and once first belt was practiced. Many of the ladies found importance in ensuring that they were comfortably situated as weaving can be strenuous on the back.

Finally, this project inspired awe as many community members came to see our ladies in action; visitors would stand by the door, take pictures and enjoy the view of tumpline weaving stretched out across the room.

 

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If you are interested in learning how to tumpline weave, sign up for our workshop using the application form. Please ensure that you fill out all required information.

A picture of Totem Carving

Once enough applications are received then we will schedule a "Tumpline Weaving" workshop.