M18590 | Fringe pendants

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Fringe pendants
Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Arctic
Inuit: Nunavimiut
1870-1878, 19th century
2.8 cm
Gift of Mrs. D. A. Murray
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Pendant (31)
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Keys to History

Traditionally, Inuit wore a heavy decorative fringe along the bottom edges of their outer sealskin garments. This particular fringe is made of polished ivory and includes several bird-shaped pendants, possibly loons. The fringe had a practical purpose because the weight of the pendants prevented the edges of the jackets from curling up, and so kept the wearer warmer.

The pendants may have had a spiritual purpose as well. In the 1960s the anthropologist Bernard Saladin d'Anglure interviewed Inuit Elders about traditional Inuit religious practices before the Inuit were converted to Christianity. He was told that individuals often wore amulets or figurines as protection against malevolent spirits. Other sources report that shamans wore an additional decorative fringe around the face.

  • What

    This is a fringe made of ivory pendants, which would have been attached to the bottom of a man's jacket or a woman's atigi.

  • Where

    These pendants were collected on the East Coast of Hudson Bay, in Nunavik.

  • When

    Dr. William Bell Mallochacquired the pendants between 1870 and 1879, when he worked for the Hudson's Bay Company.

  • Who

    Dr. William Bell Mallochgraduated from McGill Medical School in 1870 and took a job with the Hudson's Bay Company in Moose Factory. While in the north he picked up tuberculosis, and died in 1879.