Among the many beautiful objects that will be included in the Arctic Museum’s upcoming exhibit, “Dressing it Up: Beadwork in Northern Communities,” this amauti (woman’s parka) stands out. So much so that when it came time to document it, photographer Daniel Hudson suggested taking multiple images to create an animation so viewers can see the parka from all sides. You can see the result in the slideshow below.
Like many objects in the museum’s collection, this amauti has many stories. It was made by Inuit artist Lucy (Lizzie) Ittinuar, from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Canada, sometime in the 1970’s. It is a traditional woman’s parka; it has an enlarged hood, elaborate beadwork decoration, and a belt to support a baby carried in the back. The beadwork includes elaborate fringes on the hood and front panel, flowers on the front panel, and dangles including coins at the bottom on the front and back. Ittinuar has also used commercial woven and beaded trim on the hem and cuffs, as well as lead fishing weights along the hem. Clearly this amauti was not intended for every day use, although it does seem to have been worn frequently.
The museum purchased the amauti in 2011. Director Susan Kaplan and curator Genevieve LeMoine spotted it in a gallery in Iqaluit, Nunavut as they waited for a connecting flight on their way to do archaeological fieldwork at Cape Sheridan on Ellesmere Island. They purchased it on the spot. But a remote field camp is no place for such a beautiful object. The gallery’s proprietors agreed to hold the amauti until Kaplan and LeMoine returned from the field, and then to ship it to Maine, where it became a prized part of the museum’s collection.
Eagle-eyed patrons may recognize it. The amauti was first exhibited in 2013 as part of The Object Show: Discoveries in Bowdoin Collections at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. The Arctic Museum is thrilled that it will be on display once more.