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Chugach waterproof coat

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Dated: 1775-1800

Cultural Context: Chugach style

Origin: Alaska (United States, North America)

Medium: Intestine, Animal fibre

Technique: Stitched, Cut

Dimensions: Length = 85 cm; Width = 134 cm

Inventory no.: MAM 14908

Waterproof coat with high collar and long sleeves. It is made of horizontal strips of intestine stitched together.

This garment was naturally waterproof due to the material of which it was made. It would have been worn over the usual clothing to keep water out. It was traditionally used by men and women, both in ritual celebrations and in everyday life, for example for travelling by kayak. The lower part of the coat could be used to seal off the mouth of the kayak and thus prevent water from flooding the boat, keeping the interior dry.

The production process was complex and was carried out by women. The main raw material was the intestine of a marine mammal, possibly walrus. First, the viscera were cleaned with a scraping knife, inflated, bleached and then cut into strips of the required size and stitched together with animal fibre thread. The stitches were made with such dexterity that they did not allow water to enter. This type of coat could also be made with a hood.

This piece is one of a group of works collected in the last third of the 18th century in the course of the various Spanish scientific expeditions that reached this region.