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Woman’s Bonnet

Curated Submission
Sept-Îles, Quebec, Canada
1890 - 1940
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
26 x 25
Materials & techniques
Wool, cotton lining, glass beads, buttons; Hand-sewn, beaded
Gift of Greta Ferguson
Textile Museum of Canada T97.0071
The Innu, who speak a dialect of Cree, live in several communities in northern Quebec and Labrador. The term Innu (“people”) is their name for themselves, although they are known to non-Innu as Montagnais (French for “mountain people”) and Naskapi.

This is a typical woman’s hat, constructed of alternating black and red wool cloth, with a beaded rim. The red is believed to symbolize light from the fire, and black, the dark of night. The conical design with black-coloured ribs leading to the apex of the hat is symbolic of the sweat lodge where purification takes place and revelations are received. The beaded double curves are thought by some to represent caribou and the domain of the male.

They were worn in such a way that the peak of the hat flopped down over the top of the head and the hair was arranged on each side over the ears. Hats of this style had almost completely disappeared from use by the 1960s.
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