Skip to main content

Kamikpuk Boots

Curated Submission
Baker Lake, Nunavut
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
61 x 28
Materials & techniques
Wool; Needlework, embroidery
Gift of George Swinton
Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library 282.00
These embroidered wool boots, known as kamikpuk, are the liner for the traditional Inuit boot, the kamik. “Kamik” actually refers to a set of boots that can be layered depending on the temperature. An inner fur slipper is worn on the foot; this second kamikpuk layer functions like a boot liner and is worn inside a larger skin boot. An additional furred sealskin slipper is sometimes worn on top of the boots to provide an extra layer of waterproofing. While sealskin or caribou hide were historically the materials of choice, imported fabrics like wool became increasingly popular in the later 20th century.
These kamikpuk were donated by George Swinton, a former professor at the University of Manitoba and one of the most recognized experts on contemporary Inuit art. He purchased these kamikpuk at Baker Lake in 1960, and recent research reveals that they were likely made by Jessie Oonark (1906–1985), one of the most respected (nationally and internationally) Inuit artists. She was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1975 and appointed to the Order of Canada in 1984. The date of 1960 coincides with the publication of Oonark’s first prints that garnered her early recognition as an artist. The intricacy and astonishing symmetry of the embroidery on these kamikpuk hint at the talents that would later be displayed in her monumental wall hangings and bold drawings and prints.
Submit a related artifact
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Pinterest Email More...

Main sponsors

  • Logo of the Imperial Oil Foundation with accompanying characteristic oval 'Esso' symbol.

Institutional partners