Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What is a Sax?

Sax comes from the Unangax language of the Aleutian Islands. Sax literally means bird but the definition of sax is birdskin parka. This particular parka can be found in a Unangan Barbara (sod-covered house) exhibit in the museum. This parka in the museum, is an imitation of a traditional birdskin parka. Traditional birdskin parkas are no longer made because the tradition was lost after World War II. When birdskin parkas were made, it took about 40 puffin skins, and it was made over a very long period of time. They were only used on land and in dry temperatures. Men were the only ones who wore the bird skin parkas and women wore sea otter fur parkas. Today, this type of clothing is mainly used for dance performances. Unangax dancers make their regalias out of synthetic materials that look similar to seal intestines which represent the original kamleikas (waterproof parka made form strips of sea lion intestines).

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