Photo Of The Day

Old Historic Photos

Old Historic Photos

Inuit Man Wearing A Sea Lion Gut Parka

Nome, Alaska. 1900

A gutskin parka is typically used as rain gear or gear aboard a qayaq?(kayak). It’s manufactured by gutting a sea lion (I’ve seen it done with a Kodiak bear, too.)

The guts are washed out – in addition to partially digested food, they’re sometimes filled with things like rocks. You squeeze all this out, and then rinse the guts.?Filling the guts with water from a hose or a sink will then do the trick.

The guts are then scraped to remove fat and other tissue. You’ve got to scrape both the outside of muscle and the inside, which has (at least in bears) a texture like refried beans at this point. Once everything’s scraped, you blow it up like a balloon and let it dry.

Once it’s dried, you can cut it lengthwise, and you’re left with a long strip of workable gut. You’ll need gut from several animals, typically, to make a parka.

You sew these long strips of gut together – traditionally, the stitching is deer or other animal sinew. You need to keep the gut a bit damp while you stitch – but not wet, since if it’s too wet, the needle has a hard time going through the gut. Too dry and the gut can tear.

Traditionally, there’s a lot of decorative stitching involved, since these parkas take a lot of work to make. If you spend that much time on a parka, you want it to look nice. You won’t just use a utilitarian stitch.

In the end, you’ll be left with a parka that’s strong, waterproof and great as an outer layer when you’re working on the water.

Before the introduction of synthetic materials like nylon, a gutskin parka was pretty darn good. They’re not used on a daily basis anymore because a synthetic parka is easier to make and a bit more durable.

Woman blowing up sea lion intestines ready for drying?The guts were then split open and sewed with sinew thread.?Link