Reindeer skin clothing has been an essential component in the lives of indigenous people of the arctic and sub-arctic regions, keeping them warm during harsh winters. However, the skin processing technology, which often conveys the history and tradition of the indigenous group, has not been well documented. In this study, NMR spectra and relaxation behaviors of reindeer skin samples treated with a variety of vegetable tannin extracts, oils and fatty substances are studied and compared. With the assistance of principal component analysis (PCA), one can recognize patterns and identify groupings of differently treated samples. These methods could be important aids in efforts to conserve museum leather artifacts with unknown treatment methods and in the analysis of reindeer skin tanning processes.
The study of arctic or subarctic indigenous skin clothing material, known for its design and ability to keep the body warm, provides information about the tanning materials and techniques. The study also provides clues about the culture that created it, since tanning processes are often specific to certain indigenous groups. Untreated skin samples and samples treated with willow (Salix sp) bark extract and cod liver oil are compared in this study using both MRI and unilateral NMR techniques. The two types of samples show different proton spatial distributions and different relaxation times, which may also provide information about the tanning technique and aging behavior.