"Belt worn around waist by women"
CATALOG NO: 72470
OBJECT TYPE: woman's beaded skin belt
This exquisite belt from the village of Ugashik (see
matching earrings 72465 and necklace 72467) is heavily beaded and
includes dangling brass cartridges attached to a very soft, tanned
caribou base with fine, braided sinew thread. The extensive beading
indicates the owner was an Alutiiq woman of high status, as beads were
extremely valuable trade items.
Dorothy Jean Ray notes that in some southern and western Alaska Native cultures, women's belts
expressed both sacred and social realities. Belts worn by Unangan
widows or pubescent girls in the Aleutian Islands were believed to
have curative powers, marking both the significance of the life cycle
in Unangam thought, and the role of women in promoting the health and
well-being of community members. In western Alaska, Yup'ik caribou
incisor belts were also thought to have healing powers. Generally
comprised of a single row of overlapping incisor sets, they were used
to fasten a baby to the mother's back. In addition, the number of
incisors communicated the hunting success of a woman's husband, with
some belts including as many as two or three rows of incisor sets.