Caribou-skin model of a hunter
Gwich'in, 19th century
From Canada, Northwest Territories
This is likely to have been a model made for sale at a fur trading post, but it could also have been a playdoll designed to educate children. The hunter wears face-paint, of the kind that would have been worn by a chief on special occasions. This may have been a ritual ceremony, or the more mundane, but very important business of the fur trade.
He wears summer costume, made of caribou skin, with an all-in-one trouser moccasin, and a beaded shirt or tunic. The yoke of the tunic and leggings are decorated with beadwork, while the belt is of loom-woven quillwork. Strips of quillwork were widely used for appliqué decoration: they were created on a loom, a bent stick strung with sinew warps providing the tension.
The model came to The British Museum from the collection of the Marquis of Lorne. Lord Lorne was Governor-General of Canada in the 1880s. He was married to Queen Victoria's daughter Princess Louise, whose second name was given to the province of Alberta.
J.C.H. King, First peoples, first contacts: (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)