M8371.1 | Jacket

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Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal: Mi'kmaq
1845-1855, 19th century
Wool cloth, ribbon (figured), cotton cloth, glazed cotton, silk ribbon, metal brooch, metal beads, glass beads, cotton thread
54 x 45.5 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Jacket (20)
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After 1600, the Mi'kmaqs were able to obtain European trade goods such as wool cloth, blankets, thread, needles and glass beads. It was not long before Mi'kmaq women had replaced their traditional skin clothing with new styles made with the new materials. They created a particular outfit reserved for special occasions; it included a wool skirt and a bolero or jacket decorated with silk ribbons and glass beads.

Keys to History

Mi'kmaq artists drew inspiration from diverse sources and created garments for a range of purposes - to be worn by a Mi'kmaq child or purchased by a European and carried to a far off land. Nevertheless, all historic Mi'kmaq clothing embodies a part of the artist who created them and a memory of the Mi'kmaq person who originally wore them.

Artists leave a part of themselves in each object they create. This heritage continues to inspire Mi'kmaq artists working today. A case in point is this garment, which evokes for today's viewers, whether Mi'kmaq or Euro-Canadian, not only the history of its use but also the skilled touch of the Mi'kmaq woman who carefully stitched the silk ribbon border.

  • What

    This style of wool skirt and bolero jacket was worn by Mi'kmaq women as early as the 1700s. The skirt is decorated with silk ribbon appliqué in traditional geometric motifs that are reminiscent of those painted on earlier hide clothing.

  • Where

    Although this garment is Mi'kmaq in origin, we do not know where it was made.

  • When

    This garment was made in the mid-19th century. At that time, such outfits were worn for special occasions.

  • Who

    Traditionally, it was Mi'kmaq women who made the clothing for their families. They would also have sewn this outfit, which was intended for special occasions.