Woman's amauti of sealskin
Probably from Labrador or Nunavik, eastern Canadian Arctic
Unfortunately, there is no documentation on this beautiful woman's outer parka. However, the design of the costume, particularly the shape of the back flap and the decoration on the garment's edges, indicate that it was made in Nunavik or Labrador. The back flap is narrow, curving slightly inwards below the waist, and ending in a rounded tip. The decoration with bands of contrasting white and dark stripes of sealskin at the edges of the garment are characteristic of costumes from this part of the eastern Canadian Arctic.
Amauti of this style were used by the Inuit of Labrador until their costume changed through the influence of missionaries in the eighteenth century. Thus, it is possible that the amauti dates to the very first years of contact. It may have been worn by one of the Inuit women brought to England by British explorers, who often brought back inhabitants to prove their discoveries. Many of these captured Inuit were painted by European artists, and the paintings - although varying in accuracy of representation - remain valuable documents of Inuit clothing from that time.
Alternatively, the amauti could have been made somewhat later by Inuit of Nunavik. It is very similar to an amauti now in the McCord Museum, Canada that was collected by Dr William Wakeham in 1897, probably on the southern shores of Hudson Strait. This amauti may have been made around the same time in that area.
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)