Dance Apron

About this object

History of use

Button blankets are often worn with dance aprons and leggings at ceremonies. One section of the dance apron represents the user's crest design, and the bottom section is decorated with small items that create sounds when danced.

Narrative

Belonged to Henry Speck's grandmother (D. Roberts, 1966).

Cultural context

ceremonial

Iconographic meaning

Emblems or crests distinguish different social groups (lineages, phratries, or moieties) and symbolize their privileges. They can be shown on any material possessions, such as totem poles or robes, and each group owns the right to display specific crests. Within each group, families or individuals have the right to show the general crests is specific ways. Coppers were made from a large sheet of beaten copper, cut in the shape of a shield, with a t-shaped ridge imposed on the bottom half. They were brought out as the climax of a potlatch, and were particularly associated with the marriage transfer of privileges, with a wife's gift to her husband, and with naming ceremonies. Used as a decorative motif on garments, staffs and crest carvings, they had a clear meaning of wealth.

Specific techniques

The body of the apron is cut from a piece of commercial fabric. The crest design is then decorated with embroidery, beading, sequins or applique. The bottom section is made by sewing on bands of fabric or embroidering rows across the apron's width, to which are stitched sound-making objects, such as bells, thimbles, small coppers, gun cartridges or deer hoofs, which are attached to strings or lengths of beads.

Physical description

Black apron lined with white-brown fabric, and machine-stitched along the edges with white thread. White apron ties are attached. The centre crest design is a copper decorated with yellow beads held by the beaks of two birds outlined in white with red embroidered chain stitch on either side. Black and brown geometric plant motifs are embroidered on the black apron. Three rows of yellow ribbon are machine stitched across the bottom section of the apron, and 26 miniature coppers hang from the ribbons on string cords.