Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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k’oodás’ “tunic”
Language: Lingít

For a while I thought that it was an armor vest, but it wouldn’t be made like that with all the fringe and ornaments. It must be for dancing.... The only other thing it could be is x’áan koonáayee, a commander’s leather armor.

—George Ramos, 2005

This fringed moose-hide tunic resembles leather armor but is thinner and more decorated than what a fighter would wear in battle. A warrior’s tunic would also be open on one side to allow freedom for his weapon arm. As a dance garment the tunic might have been worn for the ceremonial reenactment of war. Shamans also dressed themselves in armor to portray yek (helping spirits) who were “spirits of above,” that is, warriors killed in battle. The tunic is ornamented with fossil sharks’ teeth, both real and replicated in carved bone, and with Chinese coins imported by traders.

Culture: Tlingit
Region: Southeast Alaska
Village: Hoonah
Object Category: Clothing
Dimensions: Length 75cm
Accession Date: 1882
Source: John J. McLean (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E060241