Ainu people

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Modern area of the Ainu
An Ainu man from Hokkaidō
Alexei Nakamura, an Ainu leader in Russia
Ainu man weaving traditional clothes

The Ainu people are the native population of northern Japan and the eastern part of Russia, mostly in the Amur river region, Sakhalin, the Kuril islands and on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The term is also used for their culture[1] and language[2] in the Ezo region (Hokkaido).[3]

History and culture[change | change source]

Distribution of haplogroup D, the main haplogroup of the Ainu people (in average 80% in modern Ainu).
Jomon (or Ainu-related) ancestry/genetic affinity in modern populations.

History[change | change source]

The majority of their ancestors, the Jōmon people, were a predominantly Caucasoid or Caucasian-related ethnic group which arrived in Japan about 30,000 — 15,000 years ago from Central Asia and southern Siberia.[4] They were largely replaced by the proto-Japanese which arrived from southeastern China about 2,000 years ago. The Ainu have strong similarities with Palaeolithic Europeans and people of the Middle East as well as with Native American groups of the northwestern coastal culture area in North America.[5] Some scholars think they were related to the Emishi of northern Honshu.

During and after the Yayoi period they were attacked by the early Japanese people. The Ainu and relative tribes lost most of their land in Honshū, many were killed or ensalved by the Yayoi-Japanese. After the rise of the Yamato, mostly no Ainu were left in Honshu. After time the Japanese began to conquer parts of Hokkaido and started to colonize the Ainu there. The Ainu fighted several wars but in the end lost against the Japanese and were enslaved by them. The Ainu in Russia had more luck and lived their traditional live until the Second world war, when they were included into Russia.[6][7]

Today the AInu are recognized as native population of northern Japan and eastern Russia but still face discrimination in Japan because of their bodyhair and different phenotypes. Most Japanese outside of Hokkaido mistake the Ainu for foreigners or tourists.[8]

Culture[change | change source]

Their culture is based on the ancient Jomon culture of northern Japan and eastern Russia. Their native folk religion has some similarities to early Shinto. Their gods are named kamuy, similar to the Japanese Kami. They practiced agriculture but were also hunter gatherers. The Ainu are famous for their beautifull wood work and art.

The Ainu lived in villages called kotan and were often built along rivers or lakes. Every villages consisted of at least four to seven families, sometimes more than ten. The traditional house was called cise or cisey.

Language[change | change source]

They speak the Ainu language. The Ainu language is classificated as language isolate, althought there exist several theories about a genetic relation. Some linguists suggest a relation to Altaic languages while others suggest a link to Indo-European languages.[9][10] Some similarities also exist with northern native american languages.[11]

References[change | change source]

  1. Batchelor, John. (1902). Sea-Girt Yezo: Glimpses at Missionary Work in North Japan, pp. 7-8.
  2. Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Ainu" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 113.
  3. Nussbaum, "Ezo" at p. 184.
  4. Denoon, Donald; Hudson, Mark; McCormack, Gavan (2001-11-20). Multicultural Japan: Palaeolithic to Postmodern. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521003629.
  5. Old World sources of the first New World human inhabitants: A comparative craniofacial view - C. Loring Brace et al. 2001
  6. Levinson, David (2002). Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. 1. Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-684-80617-4.
  7. Walker, Brett (2001). The Conquest of Ainu Lands: Ecology and Culture in Japanese Expansion, 1590–1800. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 49–56, 61–71, 172–176. ISBN 978-0-52022-736-1.
  8. "Recognition at last for Japan's Ainu". 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2019-12-23.
  9. Zgusta, Richard (2015-07-10). The Peoples of Northeast Asia through Time: Precolonial Ethnic and Cultural Processes along the Coast between Hokkaido and the Bering Strait. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-30043-9.
  10. Refsing, edited in 5 volumes by Kirsten. "Origins of the Ainu language : the Ainu Indo-European controversy". 新潟大学OPAC. Retrieved 2019-12-21.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

Other websites[change | change source]