About this object

History of use

This spindle was used "for spinning nettle fibre into twine" according to the collector's catalogue and spinning wool or other fibres. Homer Barnett (1955) notes that spindle whorls used by the southern Coast Salish of British Columbia are larger than those used in the north, with a shaft that is twice as long as the whorl. In the north, fibres were spun on smaller whorls that were "twirled between the leg and palm (1955:118)." By contrast, the larger whorls were used to spin fibres that were suspended from overhead. This arrangement created a tension in the roving. Johnson and Bernick (1986) report that traditionally several different techniques were used for turning the spindle, however, contemporary weavers now make use of a spinning machine that is similar in appearance to a treadle sewing machine.

Cultural context

weaving; spinning; textiles

Physical description

Wooden spindle whorl (parts a-b), consisting of a disc with central hole (a) and long wooden spindle (b). Raised lip around opening on convex ventral surface of whorl; dorsal surface is flat. Decorated on the convex surface with images, in pencil, of two whales and a human figure. One of the whales also has a small human figure depicted on its back. The spindle shaft narrows at each end, and one end is wider than the other.