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“Ainu Patterns” (All around Hokkaido): Hokkaido Heritage Series 31


What are “Ainu Patterns”?

Have you looked patterns of clothes and various tools of Ainu people closely? 
“Ainu Patterns”, often described as geometric patterns, are made up of various shapes. Some popular Ainu Patterns are called “Moreu” (swirl pattern) and “Aiushi” (spiny pattern). Unique patterns are created from mixture of these basic patterns. 

Ainu Patterns are used to not only clothes but also various tools that Ainu people use, and the techniques and unique regional patterns are inherited from parents to children. 
Women embroidered and men carved with small knives and designed patterns to things they use in their lives. 

△白老地方の代表的な着物ルウンぺ▲The most standard clothes in Shiraoi Region called “Ruunpe”. This is a type of clothes involves a lot of work: connect waste pieces of cotton, then applique thin pieces of silk and cotton. (The picture is provided by Ainu Museum)

It is said that there is a meaning to the patterns around cuffs, breast, and hems. The patterns protect from demons get into bodies. The beautiful and neat patterns designed to essential tools used for rituals, needle holders, and small knives seem to have feelings of creators. 


Feel Ainu Patterns! 

You can observe Ainu Patterns from various clothes and tools exhibitions at facilities to learn Ainu history, culture, and lives, such as “Ainu Museums”, “Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum”, and “Sapporo Pirka Kotan”. There are also workshops to learn Ainu Patterns embroidery and wood carving. You can feel the Ainu Patterns from the viewpoints of creators. (* The experiential programs are needed to book in advance.)

▲The works from Ainu Patterns embroidery workshop. (The picture is provided by Ainu Museum)  

△アイヌ文様体験学習、木彫体験の作品▲The works from Ainu Patterns wood carving workshop. (The picture is provided by Ainu Museum)  

There are shops you can purchase various products and accessories using Ainu Patterns as a motif in Sapporo.
Why don’t you visit one of those shops to feel the Ainu culture and the power of Ainu Patterns? 

△アイヌ文様をモチーフにしたペンダント▲The necklace using Ainu Patterns as a motif. You can enjoy different looks depending on patterns and textures. 

* Ainu Museum will be closed from March 31, 2018 for renewal. 


Related Links

- Hokkaido Heritage website
- Ainu Museum
- Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum
- AINU ToyToyYa

The pictures are provided by Hokkaido Heritage Council
  • “Ainu Patterns” (All around Hokkaido): Hokkaido Heritage Series 31

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Fukiko Gyoten