This weatherproof cape is made out of seal intestines in traditional Aleutian manner but constructed in the style of a cloak worn by Russian officers. Capes such as these were often presented as gifts to visiting captains and dignitaries. Charles Wilkes, leader of the important U.S. Exploring Expedition (the first American expedition dedicated to scientific exploration to circumnavigate the globe), acquired this cape in 1839 in the Pacific Island of Moo’rea, French Polynesia. Its hybrid of indigenous materials and European style, along with its lengthy travel from artic regions to the south Pacific documents the impacts of cross-cultural influences and global trade in the 19th century. Objects like this collected during the U.S. Exploring Expedition became part of the founding collections of the Smithsonian Institution. This rare cape, seldom seen by the public, will be on display in the upcoming exhibit, Objects of Wonder: From the Collections of the National Museum of Natural History.


  • Title: Gutskin Cape Or Kamleika
  • Location: Aleutian Islands, Alaska, United States, North America
  • Physical Dimensions: L: 147cm W: 55cm ca.
  • Type: Cape
  • Rights: This image was obtained from the Smithsonian Institution. The image or its contents may be protected by international copyright laws. http://www.si.edu/termsofuse
  • External Link: View this object record in the Smithsonian Institution Collections Search Center
  • USNM Catalog Number(s): E2128-0
  • Photo Credit: Victor Krantz, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History & Smithsonian Institution Archives
  • Field: Ethnology
  • Date Collected: 1838

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