Can you guess what these colorful bracelets are made of? They each have borders of small white beads, but most of what you’re seeing is porcupine quill embroidery! Porcupine quills are commonly used decoratively across North America. The quills are flattened and dyed, then folded and sewn to create colorful patterns like this one. You can learn more about traditional quillwork knowledge here, in the curriculum the Arctic Studies Center produced as part of the Sharing Knowledge Alaska program. These particular bracelets, which became part of our collection in 1868, were likely made by the Gwich’in people of Northern Alaska and Northwestern Canada. As you’ll learn from the curriculum, the Gwich’in word for quill is ch’oo.
See more incredible Circumpolar objects by exploring the Anthropology Collections Search online!