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Hunting Coat

Northern Cree

Northern Quebec or Labrador

ca. 1800-30

caribou hide, paint

length: 52"

Inventory # CW4314-141

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Among the Naskapi or Innu people ...”Hunting was a “holy” occupation, and these coats could be considered to be holy vestments, one of the ritual elements that would ensure the success of the hunt. The hunters believed that the Lord of the Caribou would send the animals out from the Magical Mountain where they were believed to live, and that the caribou would be pleased to give themselves to the hunters. The hunters would treat the slain caribou in the correct manner so that their spirits could return to the Magical Mountain and be released again for a future hunt.” (Dorothy Burnham, “To Please the Caribou”, ROM, 1992)

The form of decoration on this coat is perhaps the most literal of the approximately 40 surviving examples. The stylized double curve motif suggests the hoof of a caribou.

PROVENANCE:

Reportedly collected by William Stokes, retired First Mate (see attached letter)
Sir Thomas Turner's Hospital Museum, Redcar, Yorkshire, England, received 1869
Private collection of Deputy Curator, Castle Museum, York, England, acquired 1950 or 51 
Christie's, South Kensington, London, England, June 29, 1987, lot 33
Lee Lyon Collection, Aspen, Colorado
Donald Ellis Gallery, Dundas, ON
Private collection, Toronto, ON

PUBLISHED

Donald Ellis Gallery catalogue, Toronto, 1998 (centerfold)

Brasser, Theodore, J. Native American Clothing: An Illustrated History. Toronto: Firefly Books, 2009, pg. 99

Brasser, Theodore, J. “Pleasing The Spirits”, in Ornamentum: Decorative Arts in Canada, Fleming, John (ed.) Toronto, Spring/Summer 2015

RELATED EXAMPLES

Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Cat. No. 11-64-10/84099 – See: Isaac, Barbara (ed.). The Hall of the North American Indian: Change and Continuity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990, pg. 35

Sotheby's, New York, May 18, 2007, lot 123 ($510,000 USD)

Sotheby's, New York, May 16, 2012, lot 36 ($278,500 USD)

The Thaw Collection, Fenimore House, New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown – See: Coe, Ralph T., Brydon, Sherry, Vincent, Gilbert T. (eds.) Art of the North American Indians: The Thaw Collection. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000, pg. 99, pl. T630

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Woman’s Hood CW4314-125

Swampy Cree

Eastern James Bay

ca. 1840
CW4314-125
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Quiver CW4314-175

Tanana / Athabascan

Southern Alaska

ca. 1850
CW4314-175
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