In doing an internet search on Chilkat and Ravens-tail weaving. I found that what is lacking is the spiritual and cultural perspective. The Native voice.
This is our weaving. This is our culture.
There are non-native people who are responsible for the current “Imitation of Tradition” so prevalent of this day and age. What truly amazes me is they apparently don’ t see the irony.
We who know the true tradition are responsible for maintaining our circle.
We do not need to reach the world.
We need to reach our circle.
Our people are our circle.
Our weavings have only one purpose- to maintain our circle.
Circles enclose. Our clans are our circles.
Chilkat weaving produces perfect circles for a reason.
Naaxein is what call our Chilkat weaving.
Naaxein is the fringe that encloses the body.
The spirit that wraps around us. A wrapping of spirit.
Naaxein is a body that holds spirits. So the construction or creation process is an act of spirit.
The act of wearing the Naaxein is an act of spirit.
“I” does not exist as a weaver.
A weaver does not get a ” big head”.
A weaver learns to sit her ” little bitty ego” beside herself.
A weaver is a channel for all the weavers before her – in her bloodline, in her DNA.
She is part of the never ending circle.
Herself remembers, she is they, they are she.
The neuron pathways in her brain open as she weaves. Complex brain chemistry is activated.
Her self remembers. And she weaves magic.
The weavers intent is focused. She is weaving this Naaxein , in this design, at this time, for one purpose. To replace the old – old one at the proper time for a new- old one.
Just as the old one carried the spirits of all those of the clan who wore it and carried the spirits of the living to the spirits of the dead, so to the spirits of the dead can recognize the new body of the Naaxein . Reborn just as the clan leader is reborn.
So a new Naaxein is really an an old Naaxein just as the new clan leader is really an an old ancestor in a new body.
In order not to confuse the ancestor spirits the weaver has no creative impulses to change up, or jazz up, or tweak,modify,do it different, or experiment, play, interpret, invent, express herself, take shortcuts, explore, or practice.
She just does it the right way. She does it the way she was taught. She adheres to tradition.
She does this because she respects tradition.
She does not presume that traditions that have been traditions since time immemorial are her place to change.
Besides, she does not want any un- invited spirit guests accidentally gaining access.
If she does not choose to follow tradition and indulges her ego and big head she is a witch playing with power for selfish ends.
Fortunately, since the creation of Naaxein is an act of spirit, and Spirit is able to be Spirit, anyone not following tradition still has to deal with Spirit. Spirit is well able to take care of Itself.
So this is my perspective, if an ignorant person, in innocence creates an un- traditional imitation, then it stands to reason that that the result will also contain ignorance and innocence, any nothing more. Nothing else has been channeled because that can only be done in the traditional manner.
The Imitation is Powerless.
The moment the weaver starts putting intent in the creation of the new body for the Naaxein it sticks.
Which is why the weaver learns to leave her” little bitty ego” beside herself.
Feelings and emotions are the fuel for intent. They stick to Naaxein really well.
The never weaves for herself or wears her own weavings. She weaves for her ” opposites” , her fathers people. For her in- laws.
This tradition of doing for our opposites helps strengthen the clans into a larger circle.
Maintaining the balance between opposites is the foundation of our Tlingit Culture.
May all your circles be balanced.