M5837 | Mother's amauti

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Mother's amauti
Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Arctic
Inuit: Nunavimiut
1890-1897, 19th century
Seal fur, dog fur, sinew
49.5 x 143 cm
Gift of Mrs. R. Fairbanks and Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Amauti (9)
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Keys to History

The amauti is the traditional woman's coat of the Inuit of Nunavik. Unlike a man's coat, which is cut straight across the bottom, the amauti has front and back apron flaps, and the back one is long enough to sit on. It also has a large hood and an amaut, or baby pouch. Traditionally, the infant was carried nestled against the mother's bare back until about two or three years of age. The infant was held in place by a thong tied around the woman's chest, and its legs went around her waist. The shoulders of the amauti were roomy enough for the mother to pull the baby forward to nurse. With her infant in such close contact, the mother was always aware of its emotional and physiological needs. For example, the infant's movements warned her to pull the child around to the front and let it urinate on the ground, although there was a diaper of moss in the bottom of the amaut in case of accidents.

  • What

    This amauti, or woman's coat, is made of young ringed seal fur, while the dark bands are made of adult seal. The ruff around the face opening may be dog fur. It would have been worn with a pair of fur trousers.

  • Where

    The shape of the long, narrow, rounded back flap (akuq) suggests that this amauti is from Nunavik.

  • When

    This amauti was acquired in 1897. It shows very little wear and may have been obtained before it was actually worn by an Inuit woman.

  • Who

    Among the Inuit, women and girls were responsible for making all the clothing. We do not know the name of the person who made this particular amauti. It was acquired by Dr. William Wakeham, who commanded the S.S. Diana< expedition sent to Hudson Bay by Marine and Fisheries Canada.