Elizabeth Hope holds up the Chilkat Protector Mask at a ceremony. (Courtesy Photo | Sydney Akagi Photography for Lily Hope)

Elizabeth Hope holds up the Chilkat Protector Mask at a ceremony. (Courtesy Photo | Sydney Akagi Photography for Lily Hope)

Weaver donates ‘Chilkat Protector Mask’

It will enter Sealaska Heritage Institute’s permanent collection.

Face coverings are becoming a common sight around Southeast Alaska and the country, but few look anything like the Chilkat mask just donated to Sealaska Heritage Institute.

Juneau artist Lily Hope, a well-known Tlingit weaver, wove the mask as a nod to the cornoavirus pandemic using an ancient art practice in a new way, SHI announced. The piece, “Chilkat Protector Mask,” is a work of fine art that will go into the institute’s permanent collection and tell the story of the virus through the Native world view for many years to come, said SHI President Rosita Worl in a news release.

“This mask — made of ancient Chilkat weaving but adapted to new purposes to ward off this new virus — is a symbol of our cultural strength,” Worl said at the ceremony. “During the 1918 flu pandemic, our ancestors who were stricken by an unknown disease crawled away from our village along the Chilkoot River so they would not infect their families.”

“We too are taking care of our families by isolating and wearing masks,” she added.

Chilkat weaving is one of the most complex weaving techniques in the world, and it is unique to Northwest Coast cultures.

Hope spent about 60 hours weaving the mask, according to SHI. That doesn’t include the hand-dying of the bright yellow material and the spinning of the warp, which also take a considerable amount of time.

“As I began the mask, I realized how perfect it was to use the Chilkat techniques to record history, as we have been recording clan stories, migrations and histories for hundreds of years through weaving,” Hope said in the release.

Hope said she donated the mask to SHI in gratitude for the institute’s support of her art and continued artistic growth. She especially wanted to honor Worl and to have her accept the mask on behalf of SHI, as Worl’s grandmother, the famous Chilkat weaver Jennie Thlunaut, taught Hope’s mother, Clarissa Rizal, Chilkat weaving techniques, and Rizal taught Hope to weave.

“It is as though our families are still being woven together,” Hope said.

The mask was gifted to SHI at a ceremony marking the first dance of a Chilikat robe made by Hope for a client. Elizabeth Hope, the eldest daughter of Lily and Ishmael Hope, held up the mask during the ceremony while wearing the Chilkat robe.

More in News

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. (NIAID/TNS)
State reports 86 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death

26 Alaskans have died with COVID-19, according to state.

Police calls for Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020

This report contains public information available to the Empire from law enforcement… Continue reading

A traveler not from Alaska tested for COVID-19 at Juneau International Airport has tested positive. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Here’s what’s needed to travel to Alaska

The state released new mandate Thursday afternoon.

Police calls for Friday, Aug. 7, 2020

Police blotter This report contains public information available to the Empire from… Continue reading

State reports 59 new cases, Juneau reports 9

16 active cases in the capital city.

Police calls for Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020

This report contains public information available to the Empire from law enforcement… Continue reading

Most Read