Height: 27.000 cm
Length: 21.000 cm (soles)
Width: 9.000 cm (soles)
Africa, Oceania, Americas
Sealskin boots, made by Mary Amaaq
Iglulingmiut, AD 1995
From Igloolik, Nunavut, eastern Canadian Arctic
Traditionally, the people of Igloolik made a variety of different types of footwear used for different purposes in different seasons. In winter, for instance, a hunter would wear a pair of socks (aliqsiik), a pair of boots (kamiik) and, during the coldest part of winter, a pair of external thermal slippers. Today, the people of Igloolik still prefer traditional footwear in winter when outside for long periods of time. This is because skin boots breathe. Manufactured boots allow sweat to accumulate, which may freeze and cause frostbite.
Waterproof boots, such as these made by Mary Amaaq of Igloolik in 1995, are made of water-repellent shaved sealskin, and sewn with a 'waterproof stitch'. To make a seam waterproof, the seamstress stitches only halfway through the skin. She would use a needle with a smaller diameter than the thread, making sure that the thread fills the hole left by the needle. The preferred material for thread is sinew, which expands when wet, thus additionally filling the hole.
J.C.H. King, First peoples, first contacts: (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)
B.K. Issenman, Sinew of survival: the living (Vancouver, UBC Press, 1997)
J.E. Oakes and R. Riewe, Our boots: an Inuit womans art (New York, Thames and Hudson, 1996)