Polynesian objects from early European exploration, £19.99
Kayak jacket of sealskin (tuilik)
From Maniitsoq, Greenland, around AD 1988
'You should learn to look after it [...]. If our ancestors could do it, why not us?! When we are finished for the day, we could just put it in the deep freezer, or the fridge.' (Member of the Kayak Club Nuuk, 1999)
This tuilik (hooded jacket) of young harp seal skin was made about 1988 in Maniitsoq, and used by members of the kayak club there. It was sold to Hans Kleist-Thomassen about 1996, and then used by the members of the Kayak Club Nuuk in the rolling competitions at the Kayak Championship.
The garment has been mended numerous times. This is not unusual. Today, only few people still know how to make traditional sealskin kayak clothing, and it is not readily available in many of the clubs. Items are thus repaired and used for as long as possible. This is also one of the reasons why in most clubs, sealskin clothing is not used for training, but only for the Kayak Championship.
For the same reason, proper treatment of the clothing is important. When not used, it should be stored in a cool and dry place, ideally in the deep freezer, it was said. Before competitions, the garments are soaked in salt water and then impregnated with seal fat and softened by rubbing. In this way, they not only become more waterproof, but more flexible and comfortable.
Other Views: Bibiane 'Arnaq' Isaksen from Qaqortoq mending a tuilik. Nanortalik, July 2001.