Western style coat with outward flaring skirt at bottom; small rectangular flap at back of neck; black, red, tan and light grey geometric painted symmetrical designs; cuffs on sleeves; light-colored hide; no closures

Hunting Coat, c. 1750

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This hunting coat was created by the Innu (Naskapi), whose traditional homelands are located in Canada's Quebec and Newfoundland/Labrador provinces. This coat was worn by a male Innu hunter pursuing caribou, which was considered a holy occupation. Traditional Innu beliefs held that the Lord of the Caribou sent animals from the sacred mountain for hunters to harvest. Wearing a beautifully decorated coat while hunting appeased the caribou and the Lord of the Caribou would release more animals for the people. Its shape was modeled on a justaucorps, a long knee-length coat worn by the French in the 17th and 18th centuries. The motifs on this coat were dreamed by the hunter and given to his wife to interpret and paint. His dream was usually only two designs, the rest of the designs were of her artistic creation. The success of the hunt depended on the skill and artistry of the coat's creator.

A triangle-shaped piece of hide on the lower portion of the back of the coat was removed and replaced with an identical piece. This piece is not a gusset to add flair to the garment, but the symbolic center of the coat, which represents the sacred mountain, the origin of the caribou. After the hunting season, the coat's sacred power departs and the coats were often traded or sold to the French, who greatly admired the highly decorated garments.

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Details
Title
Hunting Coat
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2012.27
Curator Approved

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Western style coat with outward flaring skirt at bottom; small rectangular flap at back of neck; black, red, tan and light grey geometric painted symmetrical designs; cuffs on sleeves; light-colored hide; no closures