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7 Clothing

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Ainu History and Culture

1●Ainu People
2●Eating Habits
3●Wild Vegetable
10●Religion/"Sending Spirits Back"
11●Life of the Ainu
12●Sacred Dances
13●Oral Literature
15●Ainu Museum

The Ainu had many clothes : "birdskin" clothes made of birdskin with feathers of sea gulls, Temminck's cormorant, Staff-tree, and other birds ; "hide" clothes of hides of bear, deer, fox, seal, dog, and other beasts ; "fishskin" clothes of salmon and trout ; and "plant" clothes of flags and wild rye. The Ainu now do not wear these traditional clothes.

However, even now traditional "bark" clothes remain. Among bark clothes, "attush" fabrics are well known. Attush fabrics are made from fiber which is obtained from the endodermis of trees such as Elm. Those attush fabrics made from Staff-tree fiber or nettles are called "retarpe," which means white things, because the color of the fabric is white. The Sakhalin Ainu are noted for wearing these clothes. While the Ainu wore bark clothes appliqued or embroidered as formal clothes, they wore such clothes without patterns as everyday ones.

In the late Edo era, the Ainu obtained large volumes of cotton through trade with the Japanese who lived in Honshu (Japan's mainland) and through other activities. They wore appliqued or embroidered cotton clothes called "chikarkarpe," which means "the things we embroider."

Besides the aforementioned categories, Ainu clothes are classified as follows. Clothes called "kaparamip" used a large volume of white cloth for applique. "Kaparamip" means thin clothes.

Clothes called "ruunpe" were the ones elaborately embroidered with delicate applique. These traditional clothes can be seen only in a limited area, including Shiraoi. "Chijiri" is a general term for clothes which are directly embroidered without applique.

Besides the aforementioned clothes, as formal clothes, the Ainu sometimes wore foreign clothes over native ones. Long overgarments and battle surcoats imported from Honshu were called "kosonte." "Santan" clothes imported from the Asian continent through Sakhalin to Hokkaido were called "manchiwkosonto" in Sakhalin.
It is believed that Ainu men and women wore underclothes. At present, Ainu women wear underclothes called "mour." " Mour" are one piece. Women put them on over the head.






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