Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People
A People's Past
During their early history, the Ainu mastered seafaring, both as hunters and traders. From the 14th through 17th centuries, they were important intermediaries between Japanese, Korean, Russian, Chinese, Manchurian, and Dutch markets. But as some of these states expanded, the Ainu could not maintain their advantage. During the 18th and 19th centuries Japanese merchants essentially indentured the coastal Ainu during the fishing season. The final blow came in 1868, when the Japanese government encouraged Japanese settlement on Hokkaido and prohibited the Ainu from observing their daily customs.
Early Maritime Vessel
(1) Room QTVR change title to Viewing the 360 (degree) Image
(1) Object QTVR
1. Twined Basket - 360
Harvard University, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology 64026
Add QTVR instructions:
(3) Objects Stills w/captions
1. Sealskin Boots
Field Museum of Natural History 32104
2. Ikotoi, Chieftain of Atsukeshi
1843 copy by Teiki Kojima after Hakyo Kakizaki's work, "Portraits of Ezo
3. Early Maritime Vessel
ca. 1798 by unknown artist
4. Sea-going Canoe
1. Commentary on Trade by Curator William Fitzhugh
"This room is dedicated to trade, Ainu trade and contacts with foreign and neighboring peoples, which extended all the way south into Japan on the one side, to Korea on the west and north to Sakhalin and the Amur basin and Siberia, as well as up the Kurile Islands to Kamchatka. So they were in a real wonderful sort of crossroads area of East Asia, maritime East Asia, and they were the people who traded and moved materials around that part of the world for probably the last thousand or maybe even two thousand years. In this room we see lots of trade materials that were brought into Ainu culture, enriched Ainu culture, and actually were transformed into what Ainu culture really stood for, much of it being foreign materials. They also were suppliers for the Japanese, bringing silks from China, down across the seaways into Japan, and moving other materials even across the Kurile Islands and up to Kamchatka. So they were great sailors and their boats were capable of open sea travel, and some may even wonder if they didn't get across the North Pacific to Northwest America."
2. Commentary on Canoe by Exhibit Producer Joe Madeira
"When we set out to do this exhibit we wanted to get a full size scale or a full size feeling of what an Ainu ocean-going canoe is like. Basically we wanted to do a type of diorama with just the bow of a ship coming out and then the rest of the ship would be portrayed in a painting or something in the background. So I went through several people to try to find a tree big enough. What I ended up doing was finding a tree on the internet and when Mr. Nomoto arrived here the first thing he said was "No we can't do just half a ship or half a canoe because in this log that you have there's already a canoe there", and to me that was amazing, was that this tree already contained a full canoe and if we were to make just part of a canoe we would definitely be disturbing the Kamuy, or the gods and it just wasn't even an option. So what we had to do was rearrange some things and we ended up having a scale model of a full sized canoe and the diorama in the back was a type of Ainu-e painting which showed almost in the same length a picture of an ocean-going canoe with people in it so you could get the scale. What happened was amazing. This canoe really became one of the focal points of the exhibition."
3. Commentary on Boots by Curator Chisato Dubreuil
"These are seal-skin boots and these were collected before1893. Looking at these delicate designs, beautiful, vivid red that was surrounding the top of the boots I think they are made by the Sakhalin Ainu. Looking at the garment and the boot designs we can see the cultural connection with other neighboring people in the Pacific Rim."
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