Pithouse

Colours

The colours most utilized by the Stó:lō people are black, brown, yellow and red. Traditionally, these colours were created in the following ways:

  • Black fibres: boiling hemlock bark or birch bark with water in an iron pot.

  • Brown fibres: boiling hazelnut husk in water.

  • Yellow fibres: boiling yellow lichen in water.

  • Red fibres: boiling alder bark and twigs in water.

In all of these methods, the fibres were added to the mixture while boiling and removed once the desired colour was attained. In all of the methods also, with the exception of yellow dye, urine was added to the fibres before boiling to act as a mordant (to fix the dye in).

Recently, Stó:lō weavers dying their own fibres have used both natural sources of dye and modern conveniences to produce a variety of colours beyond the traditional spectrum. Also, the introduction of additional mordants that are more accessible and produce more stable colours than urine has increased the exploration of known plants in the Fraser Valley to produce more colours. The introduction of botanical material from outside the region has allowed the inclusion of further colours which are traditional to other indigenous peoples, such as purple and blue from Latin America and golden yellows from the American Southwest.

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