What Is a Kuspuk?
Dad and Stepmom called this morning and one of their questions suggested to me that I should post a bit more info right about here, as a follow up to my previous post. “What exactly is a kuspuk?” they wanted to know. Buried somewhere deep in the archives of this blog I have mentioned it before, but not lately. So, for those who may be asking the same question, here is more about it.
A kuspuk is the traditional Yupik overshirt type garment worn by both men and women. Men tend to wear them primarily for ceremonial occasions, but for women they are everyday wear. Loose-fitting, they are extremely comfortable.
Basically, a kuspuk is a long-sleeved hooded slip-over shirt with a large pocket in the front, like a hooded sweatshirt without a banded bottom. The cuffs, pocket and hood are edged with rick-rack or a similar decorative trim. The size of the pocket and the way the trim is applied vary widely among kuspuk makers. Men’s kuspuks are solid colors, usually blue, green, black or white, and have a square bottom that ends at the hips. Women’s kuspuks are usually made from a patterned fabric, often a small floral print, and may have a short gathered skirt at the bottom. They may also be longer, essentially a dress, mid-thigh or knee length. Many women, myself included, prefer the shorter skirtless version, often known as “
Summer kuspuks are made from light-weight cotton, and are often worn over a tee shirt. Winter kuspuks are made of heavier fabric, and may even be lined with flannel or fur. Parkas are the supreme winter kuspuks, made of heavy fur on the outside, such as beaver, and lined on the inside with flannel or sometimes a lighter fur such as rabbit, and usually include a handsome fur ruff on the hood made of wolf, wolverine or beaver.
Kuspuks are the appropriate garment to wear for any occasion, from cutting fish to picking berries to Eskimo dancing to getting married. I was delighted to have a fancy new one with lovely pearl trim for my wedding; along with my ivory ulu earrings, it was the perfect thing to wear in
Photos by The Tundra PA:
1. Wedding kuspuk
2. Berry Picking kuspuk
3. Everyday kuspuk
4. Pearl trim on wedding kuspuk
5. Elder in her kuspuk
Labels: Tundra Life