Skip to Content
BPainted caribou hide hunting coat adorned with green and red geometric and floral designs | Donald Ellis Gallery

Hunting Coat

Northern Cree
Northern Quebec or Labrador

ca. 1800-30

caribou hide, paint

height: 52"

Inventory # CW4314-141


acquired by the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute, Ouje-Bougoumou, QC


Reportedly collected by William Stokes, retired First Mate (see attached letter)
Sir Thomas Turner's Hospital Museum, Redcar, Yorkshire, England, received 1869
Private collection of Deputy Curator, Castle Museum, York, England, acquired 1950 or 51 
Christie's, South Kensington, London, England, June 29, 1987, lot 33
Lee Lyon Collection, Aspen, Colorado
Donald Ellis Gallery, Dundas, ON
Private collection, Toronto, ON


Donald Ellis Gallery catalogue, 1997 (centerfold)
Brasser, Theodore, J. Native American Clothing: An Illustrated History. Toronto: Firefly Books, 2009, pg. 99
Brasser, Theodore, J. “Pleasing The Spirits”, in Ornamentum: Decorative Arts in Canada, Fleming, John (ed.) Toronto, Spring/Summer 2015


Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Cat. No. 11-64-10/84099 – See: Isaac, Barbara (ed.). The Hall of the North American Indian: Change and Continuity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990, pg. 35

Sotheby's, New York, May 18, 2007, lot 123 ($510,000 USD)

Sotheby's, New York, May 16, 2012, lot 36 ($278,500 USD)

Among the Naskapi or Innu people ...”Hunting was a “holy” occupation, and these coats could be considered to be holy vestments, one of the ritual elements that would ensure the success of the hunt. The hunters believed that the Lord of the Caribou would send the animals out from the Magical Mountain where they were believed to live, and that the caribou would be pleased to give themselves to the hunters. The hunters would treat the slain caribou in the correct manner so that their spirits could return to the Magical Mountain and be released again for a future hunt.” (Dorothy Burnham, 1992)

The form of decoration on this coat is perhaps the most literal of the approximately 40 surviving examples. The stylized double curve motif suggests the hoof of a caribou.

Related Publications