Traditional Arctic Footwear

Filed Under: Arctic, History, Miscellaneous

from Aiddejavre, Norway.
Aiddejavre, Norway (All Photos: © 2016 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada/Ron Wood)

Traditionally, beautiful boots were worn by hunters to show their respect to the animal spirits.

The Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada, houses houses a collection of footwear created by people indigenous to the arctic regions. The museum supported trips to the arctic from the 1970s to the 1990s in order to gain fist hand knowledge about how traditional footwear is created and it’s importance to local cultures.

Arctic Bay, Nunavut, Canada, 1987.
Arctic Bay, Nunavut, Canada, 1987

Fur inlay is a technique used by Inuit seamstresses to create highly intricate designs. Traditional patterns are geometric while more contemporary boots feature highly curvilinear motifs, such as animals or floral patterns. A difficult challenge when creating this type of decoration is matching the nap of the different furs used to create the design so that all the hairs lie in the same direction.

Napaskiak, Alaska, 1989.
Napaskiak, Alaska, 1989

Nuuk, Greenland, 1955.
Nuuk, Greenland, 1955

Orlofka, Eastern Siberia, Russia, 1960s.
Orlofka, Eastern Siberia, Russia, 1960s