Clothing from Igloolik

Child's nasaq (hood)Child's nasaq (hood)

Map showing area where Inuit ('people') inhabitMap showing area where Inuit ('people') inhabit

Map showing area where Inuit ('people') inhabitMap showing area where Inuit ('people') inhabit

In the Arctic, where temperatures are below freezing for most of the year, warm clothing is of great importance. It is vital for hunters who spend many hours outside fishing or hunting seals, walrus, whales and caribou. Traditional Inuit skin clothing is well suited to this purpose because it provides excellent insulation.

In winter, two layers of clothes were worn when hunting or travelling. The inner layer has the fur turned inwards towards the body, while the fur of the outer layer is turned outwards. Warm air is trapped between the two layers of clothing and the body, providing excellent insulation against the cold.

Today traditional skin clothing remains important to Inuit. Not only are certain kinds of traditional clothing still preferred over manufactured garments, but the making and use of clothing plays a significant role in keeping Inuit cultural values and knowledge alive. Clothing both sustains and expresses Inuit identity.

The clothing featured in this section comes from Igloolik, an Inuit community of about 1,300 people in the eastern Canadian Arctic, some 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It is situated in Nunavut ('our land'), the largest self-governing territory of Canada.

Other views: Map. The Inuit ('people') inhabit the shores of the North American continent around and to the north of the Arctic circle.