© McCord Museum
Group of Inuit women and children, QC, 1904-1906
A. A. Chesterfield
1904-1906, 20th century
Coloured ink on paper mounted on card - Photolithography
8 x 14 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
© McCord Museum
Keys to History:
This photograph of a group of Inuit women with their children shows how women used the same basic materials to create distinctive and beautiful clothing. The geometric patterns on the amauti were achieved by setting in strips of fur or skin from different animals. The women accomplished this with the most basic of tools: a knife and scraper, a needle, and thread made from animal sinew.
A married woman was expected to make all the clothing for her family, including boots and mittens. Each family member needed a set of indoor clothing, worn next to the skin, and a set of outdoor clothing, worn over the indoor clothing. The indoor clothing included an atigi (an undershirt with sleeves) and trousers, and was always made of caribou skin with the fur facing inwards. The outside clothing for winter could be made of various kinds of fur, including caribou, dog and polar bear. Summer outdoor clothing was made of ringed seal. Many people also owned rainwear made of sealskin as well as specialized clothing for hunting on the ice.
Women with good sewing skills were highly regarded, and men sought them out as wives. On the other hand, a young wife who could not adequately clothe her husband risked being returned to her family.
This is a photograph of a group of Inuit women in traditional garb. Several of the women are carrying children in their amaut (baby pouches).
This photograph was taken somewhere in Nunavik. The building in the background is probably a trading post.
This photograph was taken between 1904 and 1906. These days, many women in Nunavik continue a variation of the sewing tradition, making the parkas each year for their children. However, they use duffle cloth rather than skins.
The names of the women in the photograph are unknown. A clerk with the Hudson's Bay Company, A. A. Chesterfield moved to Kuujjuaraapik (Great Whale River) in 1902 where he took more then 200 photographs.