The Ainu TribeAinu means human. In daily life, they prayed to and performed variousceremonies for the gods. These gods included: nature gods such as fire, water, wind and thunder animal gods such as bears, foxes, and spotted owls.
HistoryThe Ainu originally lived in a region including SakhalinIsland near the mouth of the Amur River, the KurileIslands, southern Kamchatka, and Hokkaido, today thenorthern island of Japan. They made their living byfishing and hunting, including for sea mammals. Theyare especially well known for the bear ceremony, animportant part of their religious rituals. They used dogsfor hunting, as sled dogs and in their rituals.
LangaugeThe language of the Ainu, also known as bear-worshipers, from Northern Japan, has generallybeen considered a language unlike any otherlanguage on earth. Some researchers noticed arelationship with a few other languages in South-east Asia. Others saw similarity with the Ostiak andUralic languages of northern Siberia.
The Ainu The Ainu look like a cross between Asian andWestern people. They have white skin, their hair iswavy and thick and a few have grey or blue eyes.The Ainu are a semi-nomadic hunting and fishingtribe but also practice simple planting methods fortheir food. The invading people, under their Yamatogovernment, called them the Ezo, the unwanted, andforced the Ainu into fierce fighting to retreat north tothe island of Hokkaido.
The Nivkh Bear FestivalThe Nivkh Bear Festival, a traditional holidaycelebrated between January and Februarydepending on the clan. Bears were captured andraised in a corral for several years by localwomen, treating the bear like a child
The bear was considered a sacred spirit ofNivkh ancestors and the gods in bear form.During the Festival, the bear would bedressed in a specially made ceremonialcostume. It would be offered a banquet totake back to the realm of gods to showthanks upon the clans. After the banquet, thebear would be sacrificed and eaten in anelaborate religious ceremony
HuntingThe Ainu hunted from late autumn to early summer. Thereasons for this were, among others, that in late autumn,plant gathering, salmon fishing and other activities ofsecuring food came to an end, and hunters found gamein fields and mountains. Deer were a important foodresource for the Ainu as were salmon. They also huntedsea eagles such as white-tailed sea eagles, raven andother birds. The Ainu hunted eagles to obtain their tailfeathers, which they used in trade with the Japanese. TheAinu hunted with arrows and spears with poison-coatedpoints.
ReligonThe Ainu are traditionally animists, believing that everything in nature hasa kamui (spirit or god) on the inside.The most important is earth, then kamui of the mountain (animals), then kamui ofthe sea (sea animals), then everything else. They have no priests.The village chiefperforms their religious ceremonies.
ClothingMen wore a crown called "sapanpe" for important ceremonies. Sapanpe wasmade from wood fiber with bundles of partially-shaved wood. This crown hadwooden figures of animal gods and other ornaments on its center. Men carried an"Emush" (sword) secured by an Emush strap to their shoulders.Women wore a "Matanpushi" (embroidered headband) and "Ninkari" (earrings).Ninkari was a metal ring with a ball. Women wore it through a hole in the ear.Matanpushi and ninkari were originally worn by men.Women wore a necklace called "rekutunpe," a long, narrow strip of cloth withmetal plaques. They wore a necklace that reached the breast called a "tamasay"or "shitoki," usually made from glass balls.
HousingHouses were made of bamboo grass and bark. A house wasabout seven meters by five meters with an entrance at thewest end that also served as a storeroom. The house hadthree windows, including the "rorun-puyar," a windowlocated on the east side facing the entrance through whichgods entered and left and ceremonial tools were taken in andout. The Ainu have regarded this window as sacred andhave been told never to look in through it.
MarriageThe Ainu people had various types of marriage. A child waspromised in marriage by arrangement between his or her parentsand the parents of his or her betrothed or by a go-between. Insome areas, when a daughter reached a marriageable age, herparents let her live in a small room called tunpu annexed to thesouthern wall of her house. The parents chose her spouse frommen who visited her.The age of marriage was 17–18 years old for men and 15–16years for women, who were tattooed. At these ages, both malesand females were regarded as adults.
Artifacts:Fish skin boots, Fish skin coat,Harpoon head , Knife, Dish (used atbear ceremonies) sword, sword (onlyused for ceremonies) Fishing net,trap,Bark hat