Saturday, February 16, 2013

Contemporary Ainu Arts and Crafts

The Ainu are the indigenous people of Hokkaido. According to Wikipedia, there were about 15,000 Ainu in Hokkaido in 1868. Because of intermarriage with the Japanese, there is no longer a pure Ainu ethnic group, but the official number of Ainu is estimated at 25,000 and the unofficial number at up to 200,000. In 2008, the Japanese government approved a resolution recognizing the Ainu people as "an indigenous people with a distinct language, religion and culture”. Although there is an Ainu language, most Ainu now speak Japanese or Russian. The language is considered endangered, with fewer than 100 people still speaking the language. 

 The Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art in Sapporo has a special exhibit through 24 March on Contemporary Ainu Arts and Crafts.  Here is the flyer for the exhibit.

Ted and I have visited the Ainu Museum in Sapporo and seen exhibits at other museums in Japan, but these exhibits were more historical in nature.

I am especially interested in the textiles and clothing.  I met my friend Alicia at the museum and we were fascinated by all we saw!  There are some distinct patterns in the clothing designs and if I weren’t illiterate, I’d know what they meant.  Photographs were not allowed, unfortunately.  The first part of the exhibit had old clothing and wood carvings displayed. Next were more contemporary versions of utilitarian items.  That section was followed by sections with different artists and their works.  I think all of the work was in wood or textiles. The wood carvings were amazing, but like I said, I was especially interested in the textiles.  The patterns were made up of applique, couching, and chain stitch, sometimes all three, but not always.  I think Ted will be interested in this exhibit too, so I hope I get to go again with him before it closes.

I bought a magazine/booklet in the museum shop.  Even though it is in Japanese, I can still look at the pictures.  I want to make my own little Ainu design on a project.  I’ll have to study the pictures and give it more thought.

After seeing the exhibit and checking out the museum shop, we hung out and stitched and talked for a while.  Alicia worked on a cross stitch book mark and I started a little Christmas ornament for Ted.  I made this same ornament for one of his friends last year (photo at the end of this post) and he wanted one too.  It’s a free chart from called Starry Night.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I bought a wood carving of a man signed on bottom,He has a beard and i was wondering if the is a value for these.It says aino on bottom,I think they ment to say ainu though.It is very well done and says it was made my the ainu people of northern Japan.Thanks you very much