uu-uutahpuk (Whaler's Hat)

About this object

History of use

Whaling hats were worn only by chiefs and have considerable antiquity on the west coast. A whaling hat dating to 2,500 years ago was found at Ozette, in Makah territory. Whaling scenes on this type of hat may also have considerable time depth since they were noted by Cook's expedition in the 18th century.

Cultural context

status; contemporary art

Iconographic meaning

Whaling was a prestigious activity which traditionally had considerable economic importance and was undertaken only by nobles. Eagles were traditionally a source of food and feathers. This style of eagle motif probably originated from American coins and military insignia, in the early Historic Period.

Physical description

Conical hat (no liner) with knob at crown; wrapped twine cedar warp over horizontal grass weft. Purple-black dyed cedar decoration of two rows of off-set, repeated, one above the other, of a whaler with harpoon in canoe behind whale, above each is a line with four diagonal spurs. On opposite side of hat is a single eagle on arrow design. There is a zigzag line near the top with a series of diagonal lines for four horizontal rows on every other vertical row. Three rows of purple-black at constriction before knob. At widest point is a diagonal series of stripes on every other vertical row and a zigzag double row half way to top. Inside is cedar bark head band twined at bottom with evenly spaced vertical cedar elements worked around hat elements at top of band.