Ainu. Aborigines of the Japanese islands

Who are Ainu?

The Ainus are clearly not Mongoloids. Outwardly, they are not like the inhabitants of Oceania, not the Europeans.

The main hypotheses regarding the origin of the Ainu are as follows:

  1. The Ainu are related to the Caucasians (in ancient times they migrated through the whole of Asia);
  2. The Ainu are related to the inhabitants of Oceania and sailed to the Japanese islands from the South;
  3. The Ainu are related to the Paleo-Asiatic peoples and came to the Japanese islands from the North or from Siberia.

Differences between Japanese and Ainu

If the appearance of the Ainues indicates that there is nothing in common between them and the Japanese, then their way of life is different from the way of life of the Japanese (whose ancestors moved to the islands from China) in an even more striking way.

The Japanese have been engaged in rice cultivation since ancient times. It is from there that their collectivism, transcendent performance, the desire not to stand out from the team, but to be “like everyone else” originates. Ainu – people completely different warehouse. Collectivism, in which the personal qualities of a single person are leveled, dissolving in the total mass, and the person himself becomes a kind of “cog” of the system, the Ainu have no and close. Since childhood, Ainus have been taught to take responsibility on themselves; since childhood they have been inculcated with courage and self-confidence — qualities that a hunter needs. The Ainu were not engaged in farming at all, but instead fed on hunting, gathering, and fishing. What is rice there! The Ainus did not even know what it was. Their diet consisted mainly of fish, shellfish and meat of marine animals. They ate mollusks in unbelievable quantities, and therefore, near the remains of the ancient Ainu settlements, archaeologists find mountains of gutted shells.

Given this way of life, it was vitally important for the Ainu to maintain natural balance, avoiding demographic explosions. Large settlements in the Ainu never existed. The settlements of the Ainu were remote from each other (so that no one interfered with anyone), for the same reason even in antiquity the Ainu inhabited all the islands of the Japanese archipelago.

Opposition of nations

All this time (about one and a half thousand years) constant wars were going on between the Ainus and the Japanese.

This is how one of the Japanese chronicles describes the Ainu.

“Among the Oriental savages, the strongest are Emishi. Men and women unite at random among them; who is the father, who is the son, does not differ. In the winter they live in caves, in the summer in nests (in the trees). They wear animal skins, drink raw blood, elder and younger brothers do not trust each other. In the mountains they climb like birds, rushing through the grass like wild beasts. Welcome to forget, but if they cause harm – they will certainly take revenge. Still – by hiding arrows in her hair and tying a blade under her clothes, they gathered in a crowd of tribesmen, violating borders, or, finding out where the fields and mulberry trees are being robbed, are the people of the Yamato country. If they are attacked, they hide in the grass; if they are persecuted, they climb into the mountains. Since ancient times and today they do not obey the masters of the Yamato “

The Ainu were much smaller, but each of them cost a few dozen Japanese warriors. For a long time, the Japanese lost, but in the end, they crushed the Ainu number, as well as with the help of such “forbidden techniques” as bribing the leaders. The Japanese bribed the Ainu leaders, awarded them titles. But, all the same, the matter progressed slowly. In order to speed up the process, the Japanese rulers went to extreme measures. They armed the migrants who left to the north.

Thus, the samurai class was born – the service nobility, which later became a kind of hallmark of the Land of the Rising Sun. But I must say that very, very much, including strategy, tactics, military techniques and traditions, samurai took over from their sworn rivals – the Ainu. On the island of Honshu, the surviving Ainu were assimilated by the Japanese. True, some of them moved to the northernmost of the Japanese islands, Hokkaido (the Japanese themselves called him Ezo, that is, “wild”, “land of barbarians”)

Only in the middle of the 15th century, the great feudal lord, Takeda Nobuhiro, managed to found the first fortified settlement in Hokkaido. More than two centuries passed to conquer this island, and only in 1669 the resistance of the Ainu was broken. The firearms delivered to the Japanese rulers by the Europeans said their weighty word.

Ainu culture

The Ainu pantheon of gods mainly consists of “Kamui” – spirits of various animals, such as a bear, an orca, a snake, an eagle, as well as mythical characters, such as Ayoina, the creator and teacher of the Ainu. as well as “unti-kamui” – a female deity, the goddess of the hearth, to which, unlike other deities, people can refer directly.

Until the end of the 19th century, Ainu sacrificed a specially raised bear, which had been breastfed for several years by one of the women in the community. At this event, they tried to invite as many guests as possible, and after the ritual murder, the bear’s head was placed in the eastern window of the house (a sacred place in each house of the Ainu), according to legend, the spirit lives in the bear’s head. Each person present at the ceremony had to drink the blood of a bear from a special cup passed around in a circle, which symbolized the division of bear power among those present and emphasized their involvement in the ritual before the gods.

But, the Ainu considered the heavenly serpent to be the greatest spirit. He was honored and feared at the same time. This cult has in common with the religious beliefs of the Aboriginal people of Australia and Micronesia, the inhabitants of Sumatra, Kalimantan, Taiwan and the Philippines. The Ainu never kill snakes, because they believe that the evil spirit dwelling in the body of a snake will leave its body after killing the snake and move into the body of the killer. In addition, the Ainu believe that the snake can crawl into a sleeping person’s mouth and take possession of his mind, with the result that the unfortunate will go mad.

A special place in the rites of the Ainu occupy the so-called “inau”. So Ainu called a variety of objects that are almost impossible to combine a common origin. In different cases, they are given different explanations. Most of the “inau” made by human hands and decorated with bunches of long shavings. “Inau” is a kind of mediators who “help” Ainus to “negotiate” with the gods.

An interesting point: the spiral ornament, very common among the Ainu, is also widespread among Maori, New Zealand residents, in the decorative drawings of the Papuans of New Guinea, among the Neolithic tribes who lived in the lower reaches of the Amur, and also of many of the peoples of Oceania. (By the way, the spiral is nothing more than the image of a snake). It is unlikely that this could be a coincidence and, most likely, certain contacts took place between these peoples. But where does this spiral come from? Who was the first to apply the spiral ornament, and who adopted it and made it his own?

In general, the art of the Ainu, their songs, dances, tales, ornamentation, bone carving and wooden sculpture are amazingly beautiful and talented, especially for people who have lived in isolation for a long time.

By the beginning of the new era, the Ainu in their development remained in the Neolithic stage, but, nevertheless, the Ainu culture had a great influence on the culture of their conquerors and gravediggers of the Japanese. The Ainu elements formed the basis of Shintoism, the ancient religion of the Land of the Rising Sun, and in the formation of the samurai class.

Ainu. Aborigines of the Japanese islands

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