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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Thunderbird and Sisiyutł Robe

Photo: Elizabeth Mann

Thunderbird and Sisiyutł Robe


Maxine Matilpi

Kwakwaka’wakw Mumtagila-Thothwitis, born 1956

Maxine Matilpi’s practice of making button robes follows a nearly two-hundred-year-old tradition of taking trade materials and transforming them into garments of status and honor. The crests of the Thunderbird and two-headed serpent, called Sisiyutł, refer to events in family history. The shape of the robe symbolizes the longhouse, the neckpiece represents the smoke hole, and the border designs refer to aspects of the earth and the seasons.
Melton wool, wool stoud, cotton cloth, shell buttons
58 × 69 in. (147.3 × 175.3cm)
Ancient and Native American Art Acquisition Fund and General Acquisition Fund
Photo: Elizabeth Mann
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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