Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People

April 30, 1999 – January 2, 2000

National Museum of Natural History
10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

1st Floor, Center, Hall 10 Floor Plan

An in-depth look at the 10,000-year-old culture of the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan, is revealed through some 200 objects and artworks. The exhibition considers the effects of environmental, historical, and social forces on this culture through the following themes: spirituality, trade, cultural identity, contemporary vitality, and fine art.

The Ainu historical experience mirrors the experience of indigenous peoples in many parts of the world, including Native Americans in the United States. Highlights include a depiction of the iyomante ceremony in which a bear is ritually slain to send its spirit back to its divine origins, a full-scale model of a chise, the home and center of Ainu life, and a large model of a sea-going canoe carved for the exhibition by an Ainu craftsman. Also on view are contemporary sculpture, textile art, painting, and jewelry.

 2 videos

Related publication