Playthings and Curios: Historic Inuit Art at the Canadian Museum 
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Personal adornment varied among regions but consisted mainly of beaded breastplates, earrings, hair sticks, snow goggles and various attachments and buttons for the outer parka. In the Ungava region, pewter ornaments were fashioned out of melted-down spoons. These jingled as a woman walked. In the West Coast region of Hudson Bay, women's parkas had elaborate bead decorations on the shoulders and front flap. People also wore brow-bands which had been hammered out of discarded pieces of metal, such as old telescopes.

Part of women's adornment included tattooing on the face and arms.

Ear Ornament   "Ear Ornament," 1907–1909
Southampton Island, Nunavut
Bone, sinew
7.5 x 3.4 x 0.2 cm
CMC IV-C-189
Collected by Captain Comer while wintering over at Fullerton Harbour between 1907 and 1909


Comer listed this item as ear ornament in his inventory. Franz Boas shows very similar objects which he refers to as hair ornaments (Boas, 1901, p.74). The round bead with a hole drilled into it required considerable skill on the part of the carver, with only a bow drill and a pocket knife at his disposal. The dotted lines as a form of decoration can also be found on combs from that area.

Buttons, 1914
Area around Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut
Metal, ivory
7.5 x 3.6 x 2 cm
CMC IV-C-758
Collected by Ernest William Hawkes during his field trip to Labrador in and along the West Coast of Hudson Bay in 1914
  Buttons Top

These two ivory ornaments have a metal eye in the back. They were attached to a leather strap worn by a woman to support the child carried in her parka.* The metal was, of course, obtained from the American whalers who had been wintering over on the West Coast of Hudson Bay since the 1860s. As on many objects from this area, the main decorative motif is the circle/dot pattern.

*Arima, Eugene
1984 – "The Caribou Eskimo." Handbook of North American Indians, vol.5:
The Arctic. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, ill. p. 454.