This particular beaded vest was made for a chief trader in the Hudson's Bay Company named David Armit. He was a man who came in as a clerk from the Orkneys in 1867, worked for the Hudson's Bay Company for about 40 years, was a chief trader in charge of various districts later on.
The collections associated with Armit have a number of objects in them that are beautifully beaded or embroidered, that represent the way the trade goods were incorporated into the wear, into things that were sought by Europeans in the later part of the nineteenth century.
For example, he probably wore this vest with a European suit at fancy occasions. It was important for a chief trader to maintain their position, maintain their status, demonstrate how they fit into the hierarchy again, but it was also important to show the way that they were associated with the land, the way that they had incorporated Aboriginal traits, Aboriginal styles into what they were doing. It made these people special as a group apart from the broader society, made them see themselves as fur traders, as employees of the Hudson's Bay Company.
This fine cape Dorset parka is a woman's parka, richly decorated using, again, trade goods. The parka itself is made with locally sourced materials, but you'll notice that the decoration is applied to cloth, bead decoration, and tinkler decoration applied to cloth and then applied to the hide parka itself.
The decoration would often be handed down from generation to generation. The hide parka would wear out, but the decoration could be given from mother to daughter, had a ceremonial importance.
Also just had an aesthetic importance, to show the linkage in the family. Even more so, perhaps, the hood that's on the back of these parkas was often used to carry infants.
This particular parka was acquired in 1936, Cape Dorset, by the Hudson's Bay Company, specifically to put on display at their London headquarters because it was seen as such a fine example aesthetically of this particular variety of clothing.
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