The Art and Technique of Inuit Clothing

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ME988.127.1 ME987X.71 ME933.3 ME930.1.25 ME966X.127.1-2 M5835.1-2 M5836 M976.148
 
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Parka
Anonyme - Anonymous
Western Arctic
Inuit: Inuvialuit
1900-1905, 20th century
Caribou fur, wolverine fur, stroud, sinew
54 x 118 cm
Forbes D. Sutherland Collection - Gift of Mrs. Margaret D. Sutherland
ME930.1.25
© McCord Museum
Description
Keywords:  Parka (7)
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Keys to History

ARTISTIC TRADITIONS AND EXPLORATIONS

In the early 20th century some forms of Inuvialuit clothing were more akin to the styles of Alaska and Siberia than they were to Inuit garments found in the rest of Canada and Kalaallit Nunaat. The man's parka, or qulittuq, of the Yup'ik and Inuvialuit has a distinctive feature: hood roots that descend from the hood front and are usually made of pukiq, white caribou fur, that forms a sharp contrast with the dark fur of the parka front. In some parkas, as in this one, the contrast is achieved by reversing the fur flow of the roots. Murielle Nagy, an archaeologist who works with contemporary Inuvialuit, has advised that a pointed root pattern represents walrus tusks while a squared end depicts a fish tail.

The use of wolverine fur in making the hood ruff strikingly illustrates Inuit survival techniques. Wolverine hair is long and uneven and, when breath strikes this fur, it forms hoarfrost that is easily shaken free by brushing once or twice with the hand. Moreover, the hair reduces the effect of the wind by creating eddies that reduce wind velocity. Thus a warm microenvironment is maintained between the face and the hood. Some of the fur and fringes on this qulittuq are worn away, indicating that it was probably worn daily by a hunter for very hard work.

  • What

    This man's qulittuq is made of the dark brown caribou skins gathered in the summer before the autumn rain. The hood roots, representing walrus tusks, are distinguished from the parka front by the upward flow of their fur. A ruff of wolverine fur frames the face.

  • Where

    The parka was collected by Forbes D. Sutherland at Qikiqtaruk (Herschel Island) when he was a constable with the North West Mounted Police.

  • When

    Constable Forbes collected the qulittuq when on a tour of duty with the North West Mounted Police from 1903 to 1905.

  • Who

    An Inuvialuit seamstress made this parka. The Inuvialuit, formerly referred to as the Mackenzie Delta Inuit, inhabit the northwestern Arctic coast from Alaska to Avvaq (Cape Bathurst) and Uluksartuuq (Holman Island).