From the Vault: Yup’ik socks

Take a peek into our 14,000+ collection with our blog series, From the Vault! Every other week, we're sharing interesting stories about one of our artefacts.

What is the provenance of this pair? When did they enter the BSM collection?

This is a pair of Yup’ik socks from Alaska. It was acquired from the Richard Porht, Jr. collection in 2001.

Are there any features that distinguish this pair from other footwear from the same period and geographical location?

Along the coast of Alaska, grass and strips of cedar bark have traditionally been used in a number of inventive ways, including making socks. Woven socks were made by Yup’ik, seamstresses for their husbands to wear in their hunting boots to keep the men’s feet dry. The socks also added a layer of insulation. The manner in which socks were woven was regional and quickly identified where the maker came from.

Can you elaborate more on the materials used to make this pair?

This pair was made using thin strips of cedar bark in addition to white and red thread which highlight the elegant woven pattern created by the maker.

Who would have worn this pair and where or for what occasion?

Yup’ik women on the coast of Alaska traditionally made socks of woven vegetable fibre for their husbands to wear in their hunting boots. Grass or bark socks allowed the men’s feet to stay dry and also added a layer of insulation.

You Might Also Like