Bentwood hat

Thin bentwood, flattened and lengthened in the front to serve as a visor, rolled to a conical point at the back, painted and decorated with ivory and beads to hold plumes of sea lion whiskers tied end to end to lengthen them on the back seam and top of the centerline, forms the headgear. The painted design is symmetrical about the line from the front of the visor to the tip of the cone. Longitudinal bands are painted in red, orange, blue-green, black, and white, starting at the center line with rounded ends. The center line is marked by small circles with four points that connect to the lines between the longitudinal bands. As the bands progress up from the brim, they swirl into symmetrical spirals. The inside of the hat is painted red. Figurines are sewn along the centerline, a puffin, an otter, a harbor seal, and a little man sitting with his arms on his knees. Two upright flat ivory volutes, carved and painted in a geometric pattern with spirals at the top like flat elongated ice-cream cones symbolizing bird heads stand upright on each side above the ears. Animal snout, bird-head designs, eyes, ears, sea-lion whiskers symbolize success on the water and speed and safety returning to land. I couldn’t have made this hat for myself. It was too hard to get a broad piece of spruce or cedar on an island without trees. Baleen for sewing the ends together and amber for beads had to be traded from the east, and were very expensive. Even then I wouldn’t deserve it. Only the more successful hunter, the more important man in the village, could display so many sea-lion whiskers so proudly.