wearing our identity
this is dedicated to Mathyld.
A few photos of the amazing exhibition at the McCord Museum in Montreal i took with my old analog camera.
I wanted to tell you all about these beautiful artifacts, how they are an expression of the identity of each culture, how they sometimes represent power, ancestors, beliefs... But the museum’s website is so beautifully made that you can actually visit the exhibition and learn in detail all about each object :
so instead of making a gigantic paraphrase, here is only my eye: i was amazed and i hope this few photos can transpose my emotions...
About the photos (captions from the exhibition, to learn more please visit the museum’s website)
1., 2. & 3. : Tattoo needle Anonyme - Anonymous - Eastern Arctic - Inuit: Labrador Inuit -1700-1800, 18th century - Ivory, pigment ; and Photograph of Nivisinaaq, a member of A. W. Buckland’s congregation, Igluligaarjuk (Chesterfield Inlet), Hudson Bay, NU, about 1903-04- Albert P. Low - About 1903-1904, 19th century or 20th century - Silver salts on paper - Gelatin silver process
Tattoos on an Inuit woman’s forehead, chin, cheeks, breasts, arms or legs conveyed specific messages to her community. At puberty, Nunavik girls received tattoos to signify their eventual role as women and mothers. Around the Iglulik area, tattoos were also intended to attract future husbands and please the spirits.
4. & 5. : Awl - Anonyme - Anonymous - Arctic - Inuit - 1865-1900, 19th century - Bone, plant
6. : Peaked cap - Anonyme - Anonymous - Eastern Woodlands - Aboriginal: Mi’kmaq - 1865-1875, 19th century - Wool cloth, silk ribbon, cotton thread, glass beads
The origin of the unique peaked cap or hood worn by Mi’kmaq women is uncertain, although it may derive from Basque headgear brought to the east coast of North America by early traders. Today, it is a cultural signifier of the Mi’kmaq. Made of wool cloth, the caps are generally beaded in an elaborate cosmological design of double-curves. Girls traditionally received these caps as coming-of-age gifts from female relatives -- often their mothers or grandmothers
7. : Parka and trousers - Anonyme - Anonymous - Central Arctic - Inuit: Inuinnaq (Kilusiktormiut) - 1900-1930, 20th century - Caribou fur, sinew
Inuit clothes help transform their wearers, allowing them to acquire the strength, wisdom and spiritual power of the animals the garments are made from. For example, the white fur panels on the chest of this man’s parka represent the caribou’s dewlap, under which beats its great heart. The light and dark inserts on the upper arms signify the strength of the animal’s shoulder muscles, which the hunter must emulate. Even the hood maintains the resemblance, for it still bears the animal’s ears.
8. & 9. : Shaman’s belt - Anonyme - Anonymous - Central Arctic - Inuit: Netsilingmiut? - 1930-1965, 20th century - Hide, sinew, antler
Shamans, called angakkuit in Inuktitut, hold a special position within their group. Both feared and respected, these men and women have traditionally served as mediators between the community and the spirit world. In the Central Arctic, the angakkuq traditionally wore a distinctive belt and headdress. The model knives dangling from the belt were gifts from people who the shaman had helped or who were hoping to receive favours. As the angakkuq moved, the tinkling of the ornaments awakened spirits and heightened awareness of the shaman’s presence and power.
10. : Chilkat robe - Aboriginal: Tlingit, Chilkat - 1880-1910, 19th century or 20th century - Mountain-goat wool, yellow cedar bark and pigment
For important social occasions, high-ranking individuals often wore prized items of clothing like this robe of mountain-goat wool and shredded cedar bark. The Chilkat robe takes its name from this sub-group of the Tlingit who specialized in their manufacture and trade. The design depicts a crest image seen from three perspectives ? front and both sides - symbolically wrapping the wearer in his family history.
11. & 12. : Frontlet - Anonyme - Anonymous - Northwest Coast - Aboriginal: Nisga’a - 1895-1905, 19th century or 20th century - Wood, haliotis shell (abalone), ermine fur, bone, paint, hide, trade cloth, fibre, sea-lion whiskers
According to oral history, chiefs’ headdresses hung with ermine pelts and embellished with carved wooden frontlets originated in the Nass River area, home to the Nisga’a. However, the tradition spread quickly across all the northern nations of the Northwest Coast. The figures are a reference to the three levels of the cosmos: the Upper world (eagle), the Middle world (human) and the Underworld (whale). The crown of sea-lion whiskers was filled with eagle down, a sign of peace, which floated over the guests as the chief danced.