swəw̓q̓ʷaʔɬ (Blanket)

About this object

History of use

The Musqueam, and other Coast Salish peoples, come from a long tradition of weaving. Although contemporary weavers weave for a variety of reasons, several of the weavers at Musqueam have expressed that their weaving enables them to connect with their ancestors and at the same time leave a cultural legacy for future generations. Many weave primarily for personal use and for gifts to family and friends, while others weave as a profession and sell their work to art dealers and museums. In recent years, Musqueam weavers have also received commissions from large corporations, such as Paramount Studios and the Vancouver Airport.


Debra Sparrow, the weaver of the blanket, hoped it would be the first in a series of contemporary Musqueam weavings made for the museum that would document the progression and development for future generations. Sparrow asked that the following statement be included with the record of her weaving. "I hope that in the future when people, especially younger people, look at this blanket they will feel the same way I did; that in such a confusing and fast-paced world they will find the same sense of identity that I did, so that we don't forget who we are. That there is still hope in our society, that we understand our past so that we can better understand our present as we go forward into the future. It is really a sense of grounding for me--- that if I didn't have it to relate to, heaven knows where I'd be."

Cultural context

contemporary art; weaving

Physical description

Blanket woven from handspun mountain goat hair and sheep's wool. Reverse warping used creating warp loops at each end. Warp yarns are grey in colour, while the wefts are grey hair, white wool and brown wool. The blanket has 3/4 inch double strand twining in grey hair, followed by twining in white interspersed with small blocks of dark brown to create diagonal lines. This is followed by a row of arrow shapes in white on a dark brown background, then rectangular blocks of alternating colors arranged in a horizontal band: dark brown, white, grey, white, dark brown. There is then a border of white twining outlined with a row of dark brown twining. The blanket is then predominantly covered with white hair in a twill weave with the edges of the blanket in twined grey hair. This portion of the textile is interrupted with regularly spaced, narrow bands of twining in dark brown and white wool. The borders used at the top of the blanket are repeated, in opposite order, at the bottom.