About this object

History of use

It is traditional amongst Coast Salish weavers to give away their first weavings or baskets. In the past, a basket maker's first basket was also sometimes burned. Although knitting is a more recently acquired skill, appearing in the mid 1800s along the Coast, the same protocols appear to apply. In addition, Dr. Hawthorne noted that Mrs. Charles learned how to knit by watching others in her community do it and then trying it herself; this is the traditional way of learning amongst the Coast Salish. Mrs. Christine Charles' first basket (Nbz830), which she gave to archaeologist Dr. Charles E. Borden, and another Cowichan style sweater (accession number 1783/1) made by her, are also in the collection.


This is the first Cowichan sweater made by Christine Charles of Musqueam. It was given as a gift to Harry Hawthorn, who noted: "she had watched others making them and offered to make this one for me. The birds in the design are swallows, she said. The cuffs were mended by Della Kew, her daughter, around 1970." This sweater was also featured in the CBC movie "Totem".

Cultural context

knitting; gift giving

Iconographic meaning

The birds on the front of this sweater have been identified as swallows by the artist.

Physical description

Pullover Cowichan-style sweater knitted predominantly in grey and off-white coloured wool with designs in dark brown with two swallows depicted on the torso and bands of leaf-like designs on the torso and sleeves. The sweater has a collar which fastens with a leather button. The sweater has a brown stripe along the bottom edge and on both cuffs.