DescriptionAN ALASKAN ESKIMO WOMAN'S BELT
composed of a narrow hide panel, overlaid with 99 rows of caribou incisors, trimmed with glass beads of alternating color along the sides, brass plates on either end, and polar bear teeth, alternating with brass cartridge cases, suspended as pendants along the length, old tag attached, inscribed Alute (sic) Indian Cariboo (sic) Dancing Belt. Kuskokwin River, Alaska
From the Valentine Pasvolsky Collection
Length: 39 inches
Proudly worn by women as a display of their husband's hunting skills, the men constructed these belts by removing the lower front teeth of the caribou they struck down and affixing them to a hide strip. The pendants on this belt suggest that its maker had some success in bear hunting as well, perhaps by using the rifle that produced the cartridge case pendants.
Adding to their significance, these belts were used in curing ceremonies. It was thought that healing would be facilitated by striking the affected area of the body with one of these belts. The belts were thought to have curative powers that increased with time. The women passed their belts down to their daughters.
Fitzhugh, William W. and Aron Crowell, Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska, Washington, D. C., Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988, p. 224.
Dubin, Lois Sherr, North American Indian Jewelry and Adornment, New York, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1999, p. 77.
Condition report available upon request.
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