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Who are they?

 

              Ainu people; one of the Japanese indigenous people

 

Where do they live?

 

              They live in Hotukaidou, Japan. Looking at map, it is located along the same longitude as Nova Scotia

 

 

They are about 23830 Ainu people living in Hotukaido. However, today, unfortunately, due to expansions of industrialization, economic transformation and Japanese government regulations, there are no longer any traditional Ainu communities in which peopleís lives continue to depend on hunting, finishing, gathering and agriculture.

The central key concept for an older Ainu woman in 19th century

 

The relationship between Gods, humans and things

  

1          The Ainu view the things that are useful to them and the things that human beings cannot change as god, Kamui.

  1. Nature gods (fire, wind, and thunder)

  2. Animal gods (bear, fox, owl)  

  3. Plant gods (mushroom)

They also believe that there are gods for the things that they use in daily life such as kitchen utensils

 

2          As gods have a duty to protect humans but retain the right to be compensated for this protection, humans have the right to receive the godís protection yet are obligated to return their favours

 

3          Gods, human beings and things are equal, and the maintenance of           their harmony is vital

 

 

 

Why does the relationship between Gods, humans and things is the central key concept for an older Ainu woman in 19th century?

 

  Her everyday life of behaviour is based on this relationship

From the morning when she wakes up to the evening when she goes to bed, this central key concept is always in her mind and her behaviour is based on it

   

Secondary key concepts for an older Ainu woman in 19th century

 

  1 A belt , Kut  which means  the most hidden things

  Kut is secret and is never seen even by her husband  

The design of kut  is the special family-specific pattern which was inherited from her mother and grandmother  

Based on what kind of Kut she has, it proves her descent from a particular animal deity  

2 Agriculture

  Ainu womanís responsibility is to raise crops as part of the housework, and men never took part in agriculture  

Ainu woman never fertilize the fields nor actively weed them because they are deemed as against nature and disrespectful to gods

  3 Sewing 

 How well Ainu woman design the familyís clothes will be judged for the rest of their lives and Ainu design helps to keep away evil spirits

  4 Tattooing

 Tattoo marks are placed especially upon the lips and arms and they are put there to frighten away the demons of disease

 Tattooing is one of the things that all Ainu women are expected to do in order for them to get married

  5 Marriage

The age of marriage is 17-18 years old for men and 15-16 years for women

  After marriage, a couple starts their life with a new house and a woman is expected to do all of the womanís tasks for the family, which symbolizes the states of an adult woman

  6 Life after death

  There is no heaven or hell

  Ainu people believe that in the world after death, they live in much the same way as they did in the world of the living

 

  Why do a belt, tattooing, agriculture, sewing, marriage and life after death are secondary key concepts for an older Ainu woman in 19th century?  

Although they are important for an older Ainu woman, they only play a role as rites of passage, which mean they are occasional incidents

  For example, while old Ainu woman is always thinking about the relationship between gods, humans and things, she will think about a belt, tattooing, agriculture, sewing, marriage and life after death when she is in the stage of these rites of passage.