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Otter Spindle Whorl

Item Number: 60945
Product Type:  Medallion on Neck Cord
Size: 1 3/4 inch (44mm) Round
Material: Copper Antique
Price: $34.95
This product is proudly minted in the United States of America

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packagingOtter Spindle Whorl

The native people of the Pacific Northwest Coast believed that the Volcano Mountain Woman generously provided the treasured metal copper. They used copper for tool making and for ornamental purposes. For untold centuries, hammered, formed copper panels served as a symbol of wealth and prestige.

These copper medallions capture the time-honored spindle whorl art of the Northwest Coast Salish people, as interpreted through the vision of Northwest artist Joseph Illg Crabcat. The spirit helpers on these medallions are known to convey their special powers into their bearer, much as the original whorls conveyed powers into the yarn and garments produced from them. This medallion comes with a 25 inch black leather lanyard to allow it to be worn around the neck.

What is a "spindle whorl?"

The spindle whorl was used by Northwest Coast Salish women to spin wool (from mountain goats primarily) into yarn. Spindle whorls consist of a circular disk and a center pole. Made in various shapes and sizes, the size of the disk and the center pole determined the thickness of the diameter for the strands of yarn. Spindle whorls were often carved with intricate designs using icons with personal or family meaning, and according to archeologists, often represented personal spirit powers. The designs were not merely decorative, but depictions of spirit helpers that can convey their special powers into the wool being spun.

As the wool was spun, the circular designs would be set in motion, providing a new dimension to the design. The spinners believed that the spirit powers would infuse the yarn thereby bringing wealth and honor to the wearer of the garment. Ancient whorls show the rhythmic crescents-and-trigon patterns typically used in Salish art. Rhythmic rows of design elements create movement patterns within the compositions.

Salish Indian using a spindle whorl.