Friday, August 14, 2009

ainu designs (1)

Traditional Ainu designs are based on natural phenomena and are usually depicted by women in embroidery, and by men in wood carvings. One of the basic designs is this one called morew (swirl). It represents the spirals occurring in such things as oceans, rivers, winds, and vines twisted around tree trunks. The regional variations are distinct enough that artifacts can be easily identified by their patterns as originating from either the Hokkaido Ainu or the Sakhalin Ainu.

The morew pattern is often embroidered on clothing near the openings and edges (vulnerable areas where evil gods can gain access). These garment decorations are referred to as "flaming borders" in the yukar tales, and are supposed to give ancient heroes power and protection from the enemy. The morew has also been found carved into wooden paddles which were apparently used in whale hunting long ago.

I will be introducing other basic Ainu designs in future posts.