The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Length: 29.000 cm
Weight: 13.000 cm
AOA Ethno 2001,Am14.15ab
Africa, Oceania, Americas
Pair of sealskin mittens (aaqqatit)
Made by Juliane Padilla, Sisimiut, Greenland, AD 2001
'And when I am an old lady, I want to prepare skin, and sew tuiliks [hooded jackets] and sprayshirts, and all these things you use for kayaking.' (Member of the Kayak Club Nuuk, 1999)
This pair of mittens was made by Juliane Padilla from Sisimiut during the Kayak Championship in Nanortalik in July 2001, and was used by her son Maligiaq and other members of the Kayak Club Sisimiut.
The mittens are made of dehaired harp seal skin, and sewn with synthetic thread imported from Canada. This thread is widely used in Greenland today and not only for making kayak clothing. Though almost impossible to get today, thread made of seal oesophagus is still considered to be the best material for sewing kayak clothing, because it expands when it gets wet, filling the holes left by the needle.
Today, sealskin mittens are used almost exclusively during the Championship, especially for Eskimo rolls, when the hands get cold quickly. However, most of the members of the kayak clubs prefer mittens made of neoprene because they are warmer and not as stiff as those made of sealskin. Furthermore, they need less treatment before and after use. Therefore, neoprene mittens are used for training and recreational paddling in almost all clubs.
Other Views: Juliane Padilla from Sisimiut, sewing sealskin mittens while watching the competitions at the Kayak Championship in Nanortalik, July 2001.