dark brown body with lighter brown trim; V neckline; pullover style; front decorated with two horizontal stripes on shoulders with alternating dark and light brown animal hide squares; horizontal band across chest with pairs of vertical light brown bars flanking a small circle of light brown; double rows of tiny light brown squares between bars and circles; pairs of vertical rows of red felt short fringe under arms, at lower center on back and alternating with dark brown rectangles and one square on center of back; dark brown rectangles at center back decorated with vertical stitching in red, blue, light brown and cream; similar stitching on square at center back except in horizontal rows three vertical decorative stitched lozenges above central back on back

Vest, c. 1800

Not on Viewexpand_more

2018 Accession Highlight

The Unangan and Alutiiq live on Kodiak Island and the lower part of Prince William Sound, in what is now Alaska. The woman who made this vest in the early 1800s used materials available in the Arctic, embellishing the basic sealskin garment with red trade wool, bird quills, membranes that add color and texture, and other animal and bird parts. The zigzag designs on both sides are made from bird quills sewn onto the hide with sinew. This small vest was probably worn by a child, most likely for celebratory occasions. It is a rare item. The only other known vest in this style is now in the National Museum of Finland.

This rare, visually stunning vest is in remarkable condition and still retains all the embellishments its maker added to create its bold, geometric design. It offers the viewer the chance to understand the ingenuity of the Unangan/Alutiiq women who gathered a variety of natural materials to realize their vision for the garment. It is the first example of clothing from an Arctic woman artist to enter Mia’s collection.

dark brown body with lighter brown trim; V neckline; pullover style; front decorated with two horizontal stripes on shoulders with alternating dark and light brown animal hide squares; horizontal band across chest with pairs of vertical light brown bars flanking a small circle of light brown; double rows of tiny light brown squares between bars and circles; pairs of vertical rows of red felt short fringe under arms, at lower center on back and alternating with dark brown rectangles and one square on center of back; dark brown rectangles at center back decorated with vertical stitching in red, blue, light brown and cream; similar stitching on square at center back except in horizontal rows three vertical decorative stitched lozenges above central back on back