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Unangan c. 1880. Sea lion gut, human hair, caribou hair, yarn Anchorage Museum Collection, 1986.031.001 Overall Dimensions (on mannequin): 142.2 x 71.1 x 48.3 cm (56 x 28 x 19 in.)
This Chugaayux (cape) is from the Aleutian Islands c. 1850, and it is made of sea lion gut, caribou hair, feathers and wool. Unangan, Alutiiq, Yup’ik, and Inupiaq women all used sea mammal gut to make a variety of products, including waterproof parkas and bags. Gut is light, flexible, and provides excellent protection from the cold water and frequent winds of coastal Alaska. This prestigious garment was likely inspired by Euro-American naval officer cloaks, which Unangan sewers would have seen worn by explorers in the Aleutian Islands. Gut parkas were made by Unangan women for thousands of years, though by the 1830s they adapted their vast knowledge to making decorated capes.
Bonhams & Butterfields
Mid-19th century. Spruce root, pigment, dentalium shells, glass beads, cotton and woolen cloth, sea lion whiskers, hair, rawhide.
Western Prince William Sound or Kodiak Island region
Joint accession with the Alutiiq Museum, Kodiak, Alaska. This acquisition was made possible with generous support from the Anchorage Museum Foundation, Old Harbor Native Corporation, Koniag Incorporated, Afognak Native Corporation, Ed Rasmuson and Shoonaq’ Tribe of Kodiak.
Dena’ina 1916-1917, Susitna Station. Birch bark, willow root, wood Anchorage Museum 1997.048.001
Birch bark containers were ubiquitous in Dena’ina villages and camps into the early 20th century. They served a variety of purposes, including collection of berries and other plants and stores of food. For cooking, baskets were filled with water and hot rocks.
The renovated Alaska exhibition at the Anchorage Museum opened Sept. 15, 2017
The renovated Alaska exhibition is organized by themes reflecting essential aspects of life in Alaska, both today and throughout the state’s rich history. These 11 themes reveal the identity of Alaska and its people.
Kevin G. Smith