M5836 | Widow's amauti or arnauti

 
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Widow's amauti or arnauti
Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Arctic
Inuit: Nunatsiarmiut
1890-1897, 19th century
Sealskin, seal fur, glass beads, silver?, lead, brass, pewter?, spoons, coins, wool braid, linen? thread
59 x 156 cm
Gift of Mrs. R. Fairbanks and Mr. David Ross McCord
M5836
© McCord Museum
Description
Keywords:  Amauti (9)
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Description

Starting in the early 1800s, contact with non-aboriginal explorers, whalers and traders provided the Inuit with an array of trade goods, including coloured cloth, coins, metal utensils and glass beads. As this mid-19th century amauti from the Hudson Strait region demonstrates, Inuit women soon began incorporating these novel materials into the design elements of their garments. American one-cent pieces dating from 1848 to 1855 decorate the back flap of the amauti, while spoons, lead drops and glass beads ornament the front. We know that this is a widow's amauti because it has the small, flat amaut (baby-pouch) that symbolizes a woman's former role as child-bearer.

Keys to History

Arctic Sovereignty

The activities of foreign whalers in the Arctic were of great concern to the Canadian government. Though the Arctic Islands had been transferred to Canada by the British government in 1880 , no Canadian government presence had been established there, and whalers were operating freely, without regulation.

In 1897, the Canadian government's Department of Marine and Fisheries sent Dr. William Wakeham (1844-1915) on a marine expedition charged with assessing the span of time during which the Hudson strait was free of ice, reporting on foreign whaling activities and the potential for fishing in the region, and asserting Canadian rights over Baffin Island and the Arctic Archipelago. In 1897, near the end of Wakeham's mission, he erected a cairn at Kekerton and proclaimed Canadian sovereignty over these territories.

  • What

    This is a widow's amauti. It has a small, flat baby pouch just below the hood in the back, symbolizing the widow's former role as a child-bearer (from birth until about two years of age, Inuit babies are carried in a pouch under the mother's hood - the amaut). In the early 1800s, non-Aboriginal explorers, whalers and traders began providing the Inuit with an array of trade goods, including dyed cloth, coins, metal utensils and glass beads.

  • Where

    This amauti comes from the Nuvummiut Tariunga (Hudson Strait) area.

  • When

    As this mid-19th century amauti demonstrates, Inuit women incorporated novel materials into the design elements of their garments. American one-cent pieces dating from 1848 to 1855 decorate the back flap of this amauti, while spoons, lead drops and glass beads ornament the front.

  • Who

    Dr. William Wakeham collected this amauti in the course of his marine expedition. It was made and worn by a Nunatsiarmiut (Baffin Island, Nunavut) woman.