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 Museum Explorer

Dress and ornament in the Americas

Caribou-skin parka

Height: 76.000 cm

AOA 1990.Am12.1

Caribou-skin parka

From: West Greenland (Inuit)
Date: early 19th century AD

The Inuit people need warm clothing as in the Arctic it is freezing for nine months of the year. Inuit make clothing from the furs of Arctic animals, which are thick and warm. This girl's parka is made from caribou skin. Caribou are reindeer that are hunted by the Inuit for food as well as for their skins.

Under a microscope the hair of the caribou looks like sticks of bubble wrap. The bubbles of air make caribou fur warmer than that of most animal skins. Two or more layers of clothes are worn by Inuit people. A first layer has the caribou hair turned inwards touching their skin, then a second layer has the hair facing out. Warm air is trapped between the two layers.