Greenland, the world's largest island, is a vast country with an Arctic climate and a very small population. Although there has been a strong Danish presence in Greenland since the 18th century, this enormous island still retains an indigenous Inuit population, known as Kalaadlit. As agriculture and forests are unknown, these people have traditionally relied on hunting, and especially fishing, to yield the raw materials necessary for survival.

Greenlander costume is distinctive and colourful, and includes net-like beaded collars and long boots called kamiks. Kamiks are made of sealskin, and consist of three parts: the inside stocking kamik; a layer of grass for warmth and ventilation; and the outer kamik. Many varieties are worn, both summer and winter, according to the occasion, and the age and gender of the wearer.

Special occasion boots are often adorned with intricate appliqué of tiny squares and strips of dyed sealskin. Linen thread embroidery, introduced from Europe, is also used on dress footwear, as are bands of lace above the knee, worn particularly at confirmations and weddings.

For conservation reasons, and in order to show more variety over time, only a selection of footwear from the permanent collection is displayed in our exhibitions at any one time. This means there's always something new to see.

image of footwear from Greenland