Ceremonial Robe, Kwakwaka'wakw
Date of Issue
April 30, 1993
Series Time Span
Perforation or Dimension
13 x 12.5
Designed by Peter Adam Based on a photograph by Michael Mitchell
To mark the Year of the Craft in the Americas, the commemorative stamps dedicated to the rich textile traditions of Canada will be issued April 30. Today, these types of hand-crafted textiles are fashionable and decorative items adding accent, mood and distinction to a room. Occasionally displayed on walls, they have become "objets d'art". Hundreds of years ago they were mostly - if not strictly - made for warmth and comfort. Their decorative function was to cover bed furnishings during daytime. Quilts, coverlets, "ruggs" and bed cover existed from necessity and gained a place in history because of the techniques used, the rarity or the uniqueness of a piece and mostly as a reflection of a people's talent and culture. All of the items selected can be viewed by the public as each is housed in a Canadian public museum collection. The stamp depicts a Ceremonial robe of the Kwakwaka'wakw - First Nations people from the central and northern coasts of BC and Alaska. It was sewn of wool and cotton cloth, with bark, abalone shell, assorted pearl and metal buttons sewn to form a sun crest. The First Nations people believed that the traditional robes had special powers such as instilling confidences and providing spiritual strength. They were worn at ceremonies called Potlatches. These reunions were held to celebrate significant events in one's life such as receiving a name, to mourn the death of a chief or to celebrate one's investiture as a chief. People would fast, exchange gifts, sometimes including copper pieces, hammered into the shape of a shield and decorated with crests and designs. Today, the ceremonial robes are even more elaborate and colourful. The traditions have been democratized and robes can be worn by everyone. However, the wearing of the family crest is still restricted to members of that family.
Canada Post Corporation. Canada's Stamps Details, No. 10, 1993, p. 7-8, 10.
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