Greenland2 avaSome folk accessories are so significant for a certain culture that they become the centerpiece of traditional attire, the item you notice first. For a Greenlandic national costume, this special accessory is a yoke – a huge beaded collar you can see on the local women. And it’s not something archaic or old-fashioned, Greenlandic ladies, young maidens and elderly women, still wear yokes with their traditional clothing and even with contemporary outfits.

A yoke is a beaded collar worn on top of an anorak, parka, sweater, or coat. Usually, it is rather large and reaches to the mid of the abdomen and almost to the elbow. It circles the upper body and looks more like a cape than a collar.

The yoke is woven with glass or pearl seed beads using various intricate patterns. You’ll never see a yoke made in just 1-2 colors. Typically, it’s very colorful and bright. The most popular shades of beads are red, blue, violet, yellow, orange, white, etc.

The patterns of these handwoven yokes are significant. They actually originate from the Viking culture! Vikings were the ones who brought this style of adornments and these woven designs to Greenland. And to this day, some of the motifs and symbols remain popular.


Greenlandic yoke – stunning colorful accessory of the north people


Historically, a yoke was a status item. As seed beads were imported to Greenland and rather costly, not everyone could afford to buy them, and people needed a lot of beads to create one yoke. So, this exquisite collar was mostly available to wealthy women and women who had a higher position in society. Of course, today, any Greenlandic girl or woman can wear a yoke because beads are available and affordable. She can weave herself or buy a yoke from an artisan. Sure, it’s not cheap because it takes a lot of work to create such a complicated beaded collar.

Recently, this accessory has turned from a status item into a cultural piece and the local ladies happily wear their yokes for special occasions and even in daily life. This is totally understandable – in a country covered with white ice and snow most of the year, a multicolored and eye-catching beaded collar can be like a fresh breath of air.

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