Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Sewing bag

kakivik “sewing bag”
Language: Central Yup'ik

Tua-i-llu, tua-i-llu-gguq keluakun arnaq cakneq tangerrluki keluun uum angutem cucuknauraa, keluakun. (And then a man would want a woman if she had nice, careful stitches.)

—Virginia Minock, 2002

The traditional roll-up sewing bag, or kakivik – like this one with its walrus ivory fastener and trimmings of wolverine, caribou, mink, and squirrel fur – was an essential feminine possession. Girls made them to demonstrate that they had learned the skin-sewing skills that they would need as wives. In rituals, the bags signified womanhood and birth; thus when a girl experienced her first menstruation and “stood up” in the community as a marriageable woman, she unwrapped her dolls (“pretend children”) from her kakivik and gave them away to younger companions.

Culture: Yup’ik
Region: Togiak River
Village: Kassianmute
Object Category: Baskets, bags, boxes
Dimensions: Length 27.5cm
Accession Date: 1886
Source: Sgt. Samuel Applegate (donor, collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E127353