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Shirt and leggings

Gwich´in shirt and leggings
ca. 1860–1890
Caribou hide, glass beads, pigment, sinew
126 x 127 cm (shirt), 128 x 60 cm (leggings)
William M. Fitzhugh Collection

Gwich´in live in a subarctic environment that extends from Alaska through the northern Yukon to the lower Mackenzie River in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Traditionally, Gwich´in wore a distinctive multipiece ensemble consisting of a long fringed tunic with a pointed bottom edge, moccasin-trousers, and often a matching hood, gloves and knife sheath, all made of finely tanned, soft, thin white caribou hide decorated with porcupine quill and/or glass beads. The ensemble shown here is decorated exclusively with glass beads. Incorporated into items of personal adornment after European contact, glass beads were regarded as symbols of wealth and prestige.

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