An Ancient Bond with the Land

Arctic Whalers

Dressing for the Weather

Inuit make the warmest clothing in the world. Its effectiveness is based on the principle of layering, and on the unequalled insulation qualities of caribou skin.

Sewing the clothing that kept her family warm and dry was the most important and time-consuming of a woman's tasks, requiring great skill. Sinew - a fibrous material in the leg and back muscles of caribou - was used for thread, and copper or bone for needles. Hides for clothing were cut using the traditional semi-lunar woman's knife, or ulu. In the words of Pitseolak, a Baffin Island Elder, "In the old days I was never done with the sewing."

After the cold of winter, the brilliant light of spring posed a different kind of environmental problem. Sunlight reflected from the ice and snow could cause snow blindness. To reduce the sun's glare, hunters and travellers wore snow goggles, ingeniously fashioned from wood, antler, or even baleen from a whale's mouth.

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