Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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ax^am chachx^uu “dance belt”
Language: Unangam Tunuu (Eastern Aleut dialect)

It must have had to do with hunting, because there are animals on there.

—Mary Bourdukofsky, 2003

Belts had both magical and ceremonial functions. When a girl had her first menstrual period she spent 40 days alone sewing and weaving baskets, and the belt that she wore during that time was said to have the power to cure illness. Belts woven from sinew or grass were thought to protect a man from enemies and attacks by animals. Dancers wore belts that were decorated with caribou hair stitching and tassels of seal fur. This sealskin belt with carvings of animals was probably made for dance ceremonies, although its specific meaning is unknown.

Culture: Unangax (Aleut)
Region: Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Object Category: Clothing
Dimensions: Length 112cm
Accession Date: 1915
Source: W. O. Oldman (seller)
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 040881.000