The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Length: 55.000 cm
Height: 31.000 cm
AOA Ethno 2001,Am14.14
Africa, Oceania, Americas
Sealskin sprayshirt (akuilisaq)
Made by Juliane Padilla, Sisimiut, Greenland, AD 1997
'I always use this sprayshirt, during Championships, and also for training and everyday paddling. I prefer sprayshirts made of sealskin, because they are much more waterproof than those of canvas.' (Member of the Kayak Club Sisimiut, 2001)
In the past, kayak hunters used a sprayshirt (akuilisaq) when the sea was calm. Fastened to the cockpit, it prevented water from coming into the kayak. Sprayshirts were usually worn in combination with mittens and aaqqat, separate sleeves that a hunter would put on to keep those of his ordinary jacket or pullover dry. Today, such kayak sleeves are rarely used in the kayak clubs.
This sprayshirt was made in Sisimiut in 1997 for Maligiaq Padilla by his mother, Juliane Padilla, with the help and advice of her father, Peter Johnsen. It is made of harp seal skin, with drawstrings of bearded seal skin at the lower edge. To fasten it to the cockpit, the drawstrings are pulled as tight as possible and then secured and held in place with a knot or, like here, with a toggle.
The upper edge of a sprayshirt is either folded down, or held up with drawstrings or braces. These can be of sealskin, and are sometimes lavishly decorated with pearls of ivory, whale bone, or caribou antler. Here, the braces are of synthetic thread.
Other Views: Maliina Amondsen from Nuuk, ready for the relay race. She is wearing a sealskin sprayshirt over ordinary rainwear. Nanortalik, July 2001.