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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Coast Salish Shamanic Spindle Whorls

The spindle whorl, once an indispensable tool for aboriginal weaving, is no longer just a museum artifact, but a symbol that has been reborn as an icon to globally identify the cultural lineage of the Coast Salish people from the Pacific Northwest Coast. Salish women were unrivaled in their ability to produce beautiful textiles that had social and spiritual significance. Many Salish spindle whorls have sophisticated and powerful carved designs -- human, animal and geometric. The whorl was placed on a wooden spindle to add the weight needed to maintain the spinning motion, and to prevent the wool from falling off the rod as it was being spun. As the whorl turned, the designs would blur together into a swirling kaleidoscope, entrancing the spinner. This shamanic trance state was considered vital: it gave the spinner the ability to create sacred textiles imbued with spirit power. To learn more read: "Coast Salish Spindle Whorl: From Practical Use to Present Day Art," The Spindle Whorl: An Activity Book Ages 9-12, and visit Coast Salish artist Susan Point's website.

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