Traditional dress

Inspired by my Mi’kmaq ancestors, I have been researching the style of traditional dress they used.

Because paintings of the past are not always accurate, I have been looking for pictures. Some of these I have found on the Nova Scotia museum site.

“The picture is of Molly Muise who lived to a great age and was so much respected by her white neighbors that they erected a tombstone to her memory.” [Accession Note BA19.6.1, Fort Anne] Her dates of birth and death are not known. This may be the earliest portrait of a Mi’kmaq by a photographic process. Molly Muise (the name was originally the French ‘Mius’ and is now spelled Meuse and Muse as well) is wearing a peaked cap with double-curve beadwork, a dark shirt, a short jacket with darker cuffs, over which she apparently has draped a second short jacket, its sleeves pulled inside, as a capelet. Her traditional dress with the large fold at the top is held up by suspenders with ornamental tabs. In her hands she seems to be clutching a white handkerchief.”

picture dated 1863-1865

The woman is  Mary Christianne Paul Morris (1814-1884), living at Chocolate Lake, Halifax. Note the small quillwork box, and the quillwork canoe model. Her work was highly praised and sought after.

Mary Christianne Paul Morris (1814-1884), and her adopted son Joe. This undated photograph by J. S. Rogers (working 1863-1874), owner of The People’s Gallery, Halifax, was published as a line drawing in 1868. [Reference unknown.] A second copy in the Bureau of American Ethnology Collection, National Archives, Washington D.C., is labeled “Micmac Costumes, 1865, near Halifax, Cresmcook? [Chezzetcook?] N. S.” Identification of the woman as Christianne Morris is based on comparison of costume to that in the Gush and Starr paintings (previously shown), and on the fact that Christianne Morris was well-known in the city, and had posed for at least one other artist. This particular woman was also photographed by W. D. O’Donnell.

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