Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Sewing bag

kakiwik “sewing bag”
Language: Koniag Sugpiaq (Alaska Peninsula dialect)

It was a sewing kit. They had little pockets to put their sinew in. You had your ivory needles, and then your thread, whale sinew…The ladies, they would take it along just like a handbag so they would always have their sewing with them…My mother and my godmother, they used to carry them.

—Lucille Antowock Davis, 1997

Women carried roll-up pouches to hold their sewing supplies, and a nicely made kakiwik demonstrated the owner’s artistry. This sewing bag has a black-painted flap, sealskin trim, dyed-esophagus strip appliqué, caribou hair embroidery, and rows of tiny yarn loops. A sinew cord wraps around the bag when rolled. The pouch would have held needles—traditionally made of split bird bone, ivory, or copper—as well as scraps of fur and thread made from whale or caribou sinew.

Culture: Sugpiaq (Alutiiq)
Region: Alaska Peninsula
Village: Katmai
Object Category: Baskets, bags, boxes
Dimensions: Height 39cm
Accession Date: 1882
Source: William J. Fisher (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E072497