Traditional Carriers: Amauti

on October 12, 2012

The large-hooded Amauti garment, worn by Inuit women, is unique. The parka’s traditional design is functional, allowing the child to be carried in the same garment as the parent offering protection and safety from the harsh Arctic climate, as well as beauty – and beautiful these traditional carriers are!

The design and look of an Amauti was passed on from generation to generation, with particular looks dependant on the area one was from. Various materials were used dependant on availability and included seal skin and caribou. Measurements were by hand and custom fitted to the mother. Like the Ergobaby carrier back position, the baby Inuit was carried with their stomach to mother’s back and their knees were bent. The Amauti was secured around the mother’s waist to prevent the child from slipping down. The weight of the child was carried across the shoulders of the garment although the weight was typically re-distributed by two more ties which form a “v” from the collar bone, with the base secured by the tie at the waist. The shoulders of the carrier were roomy enough for the mother to easily move her child forward to breastfeed when needed. This particular form of carry allowed the mother to be in constant contact with her infant, even enabling her to determine when the child needed to toilet! (although an emergency nappy of moss was kept at the bottom of the Amauti in case of emergencies!).

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs, Photograph by Lomen Bros., 1906

Many of the traditional methods of Amauti production were beginning to fade into history until recently. The first national consultation with Inuit women in Canada on the issues of protecting their cultural property, traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights was held in 2001. It was also the culmination of several years of research and development. Please find attached the final report here with some glorious images of the produced results.

Eastern Arctic Inuit: Nunavimiut (1890-1897) Made from Seal fur, dog fur, sinew. Kept at McCord Museum