Button blanket

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A contemporary button blanket made by Joshua Sherurcij, 2008

A button blanket is wool wearing blanket embellished with mother-of-pearl buttons, created by Northwest Coastal tribes.

Rather than sleeping equipment, the blankets are used as capes and gifts at ceremonial dances and potlatches.[1]

The blankets were originally acquired from the Hudson's Bay Company traders during the mid-19th century.[2] The trade blankets were typically dark blue duffle and decorated with buttons made from abalone or dentalium shells.[3] The central crest typically portrayed a symbol of the wearer's family heritage.[4]

The blankets usually have a red border on the upper and lateral edges. A central crest figure is created from the buttons and red flannel appliqué. Button blankets are worn over the shoulders and the crest design hangs on the back of the wearer.[5]

Among the tribes who make button blankets, they are not hung from walls, except at funerals or near the graves of chiefs.[5]

Haida artist Florence Davidson (1896–1993) was known for her button blankets.

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References[edit]

  • Wade, Edwin L. The Arts of the North American Indian: Native Traditions in Evolution. Manchester, VT: Hudson Hills, 1986. ISBN 978-0-933920-55-2.