Object photography

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Object description

  • Unangax^ (Aleut) artist
  • Jacket, about 1830
  • Intestine, grass, wool
  • Aleutian Islands, Alaska, United States
  • L: 38 1/4 in, W: 33 in (L: 97.2 cm, W: 83.8 cm)
  • Gift of the Essex Institute, 1893
  • E2665
  • Artist maximized naturally-occurring white stripes in intestine as design element
  • Completely waterproof -- intestine seams sewn with grasses and sinew

Unangan and Alutiiq people of the Aleutian Island chain have made and worn specialized anoraks made from sea mammal and bear intestines for multiple generations. Affectionately called "gut garments," they serve as the hunter's outermost layer, worn over warm fur and birdskin parkas while hunting in kayaks on the open ocean, or on land during rainy weather. Made to honor both the hunter and the prey, it would take a highly skilled female seamstress about one month to create a pullover such as this. Detailed embellishments personalize the coat - here, the worsted string pendants and tiny strips complement the gut's light horizontal stripes.

DESCRIPTION

This is a waterproof jacket (anorak) made from strips of sea lion intestine sewn horizontally and ornamented with both sea lion esophagus and colored worsted wool. White and red twisted worsted hang decoratively in five inch long tassels throughout the entire garment. The seams are sewn with native grasses to attach the gut strips together.

Exhibition History

  • Uncommon Legacies: Native American Art from the Peabody Essex Museum, Washington State Historical Society; October 11, 2005 through February 09, 2006