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Dance cape

saliitix^ “woman’s dance shawl of sea lion gut, throat or skin”
Language: Unangam Tunuu (Atkan dialect)

Also called:
ayagam ax^am chugaayuu “woman’s dance shawl”
Language: Unangam Tunuu (Eastern Aleut dialect)

It’d be Russian Christmas. And they’d have dancing, they’d have drums. There’d be old Jenny Galuktinoff, John Goldovoff, Walter Gardayoff, and they’d dance. Aleut dances and old songs.

—Maria Turnpaugh, 2003

This dance cape made of sea mammal intestines is from Bering Island, located at the far western end of the Aleutian chain. Carl Heinrich Merck witnessed the use of a dance cape in 1790: “A man holds a mask in front of his face, and his jumps and turns stay exactly in time with the beats of the hand drum. In each hand he holds two blown-up stomachs of sea animals. He swings them about to the same beat. Sometimes he throws these away and instead picks up a red-and-white-striped blanket made of gutskin.”

Culture: Unangax (Aleut)
Region: Commander Islands, Russia
Village: Bering Island
Object Category: Clothing
Dimensions: Length 140cm
Accession Date: 1883
Source: Dr. Leonhard Stejnger (donor, collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E073028