Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

Sharon Kay

Aleut (Unga)

Unga Island, Alaska, USA

(1949- )

“There are three known variations of Unangax basketry: Attuan, Atkan and Unalaskan. Attu baskets were the finest woven. Rye grass was the main material used in making baskets; other material used in making baskets: baleen, sinew, feathers, gut, strips of sea lion esophagus, dyes from plants and minerals, caribou hair, birch bark and sea mammal fur. Various conditions attributed to the use of raffia being used, beginning in the 1800s, they include: introduction of sheep on some islands, imposition on the Unangax by the Russians, and timeliness for collectors; it took two to three months to prepare rye grass for weaving after gathering it, and considerably less time to prepare raffia.”

“Grass for weaving is cut from hillsides in the Aleutians twice a year. Only the youngest inner blades must be used to manufacture the finest baskets. Extremely fine weaves of up to 2,500 stitches per square inch were a hallmark of Aleut styles from some regions in the past, and Aleut baskets in general are often mistakenly referred to as “Attu baskets” for this reason.”

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