[Sinews of Survival: The Living Legacy of Inuit Clothing]

Article excerpt

Sinews of Survival provides a survey of prehistoric, historic, and contemporary Canadian Inuit clothing which includes examples drawn from Aboriginal peoples in Alaska, Russia and Greenland. The first chapter focusses on tools, accessories and garments found in archeological sites in Canada, Alaska and Greenland. The second chapter provides a good introduction to the main skins used in Inuit clothing, including seal, caribou and bird skins. It also introduces each type of clothing and how the clothing is layered to provide insulation. Skin preparation procedures and excellent drawings of the stitches used for different garments, including intestine parkas, are presented in chapter three.

The main portion of the book presents a survey of Canadian Inuit clothing which is well-organized with maps clearly identifying the region, photographs illustrating regional styles being used in a variety of activities, examples of garments from museum collections and drawings of garment patterns by Dorothy K. Burnham. The end of this chapter includes information on the evolution of styles and the impact trade goods had on Inuit clothing styles.

Chapter five, "Spiritual, Artistic and Social Traditions," provides a fascinating summary of the spiritual and sociocultural meaning of symbols used by seamstresses in clothing with examples drawn from throughout the circumpolar region and as far south as the Lower Amur River (Russia-China border). …