Reindeer knickers, Siberia

These women’s knickers are made of young, soft reindeer skin and were worn with leggings and thigh-high boots.

The Evenki (also known as Tungus) people occupy huge territories of north-eastern Siberia. Traditionally a mixture of pastoralists and hunter-gatherers, they still rely on reindeer herding for transport, fur and milk. To survive the extreme cold – where temperatures can drop to 50 degrees below zero – yet also move easily across the tundra, they need warm but light clothing.

This garment was collected in 1914 by Marie Antoinette Czaplicka, a Polish anthropologist in charge of an expedition to study Evenki life and collect artefacts for the Pitt Rivers Museum and Pennsylvania University Museum. 

Accession number: 1915.50.111