Monday - #MuseumWeek #WomeninCulture - Inuit Seamstresses
In Inuit culture, clothing is designed to provide optimum protection from the Arctic environment, as well as to display cultural distinctions.
Women sewed all their family's clothing and footwear from the skins that they had cleaned and prepared. Men's sewing skills were limited to mending and they carried small sewing kits for emergency repairs when out on the hunt. The production of Inuit footwear is a lengthy and complex process that involves preparing skins, pattern making, cutting and sewing. To accomplish these laborious tasks, a woman requires a variety of tools, which are very personal and are made specifically for the hands of the woman using them. Significant tools like a woman's ulus were buried with her when she died.
Historically, well-made clothing was a matter of life and death in the Arctic. Inuit women are keenly knowledgeable about the qualities of different animal skins and thoughtfully use these materials to create clothing that protect themselves and their families from the bitter cold. The clothing made by skilled seamstresses was not only essential to maintain warmth, it was also central to the proclamations of social identities such as gender and occupation. Inuit women continue to produce elaborately decorated skin boots to demonstrate their pride in their families. This ongoing work is part of the backbone of Inuit society and the work of these women is essential to both survival and culture.
Learn more about bootmaking skills in the Arctic in the BSM's online exhibition "Our Boots".