• top frame 
  • A photograph of an Ungava Inuit man in a traditional seal skin parka and trousers.
  • Magnifying Glass

Inuit man in seal skin parka and trousers.
Arviat, Nunavut
Photograph by Jill Oakes

Skin Clothing

Come up to me,
Come up to me.
I will gladly sew hoods
to your garments.
I will gladly set fine soles
to your kamiks.

Traditional song collected by Rasmussen, 1930

Inuit clothing is made from the warm skins of arctic animals and is designed to provide optimum protection from the arctic environment, as well as to display cultural distinctions. It is worn in overlapping layers that can be removed or added when needed to control body temperature. Armholes are made roomy so the wearer can easily slip his or her arms out of the sleeves to wrap around the body to keep warm.

Women sewed all their family's clothing and footwear from the skins that they had cleaned and prepared. Men's sewing skills were limited to mending and they carried small sewing kits for emergency repairs when out on the hunt. Traditional beliefs prohibited women from sewing while the men were out hunting - by restricting sewing activity, the whole community was able to focus its energy on a successful hunt.