National Geographic : 1967 Feb
traditional Ainu house, has authenticity and helps perpetuate the Ainu world that was. There one may see the old dances, and exhibi tions of wood carving, rush basketry, and the weaving of attush, a cloth made from the inner bark of the elm. "We try to give visitors a little knowledge of what is best and most truly characteristic about the old Ainu life," Kayano said as he showed me the chisei. It consists of a frame work of wood covered by grass, bulrush, or bark, with an entry shed, low doorway, sacred window facing east, and single family room with packed dirt floor and open fire pit. The chisei as a tourist attraction has had this beneficial effect: Ainu art is being newly appreciated. Even in Tokyo's exclusive shops we saw Ainu designs on sofa pillows, bed "Wicked spirits cause illness. We must drive them away," old Ainu believe. To treat a crippled man of Nibutani, praying women tie his limbs with bulrush stems and cloth and gently beat him with branches. Then they cut away the bindings with sickles and throw them into the Saru River, shouting and scolding; thus the "evil ones" flee. In a similar exorcism, a woman with a facial tic (below at center) receives treatment beside a good deity, a tree "well shaped and leaning to the east." An elder offers saki rice wine. Friends gesture and stamp to drive out the spirit of sickness. spreads, curtains, and jewelry cases. These designs are printed on wrapping paper, on shopping bags, even on wallpaper. Native crafts provide income and revive self-expres sion among the Ainu, just as they do among our American Indians. "Certain of our rites and ceremonies are too personal and sacred to be performed in public," Kayano observed. "For you, though, as a scholar," he added graciously, "we shall of course be glad to conduct them." I place Kayano and his young friends among what I call the ardent Ainu, those dedicated few who strive to keep alive the customs and crafts of their forebears. Kayano himself is a skilled carver specializing in ex quisite wood trays. Through him I made the acquaintance of Contentment, a gift of old ways: The wife of Ichitaro Nitani broils fish over a sunken hearth. Her husband, whittling a skewer, told the author: "We never forget to toss a little of our food and drink on the coals for the dead and the spirits-especially the god dess of fire. Our hearth is sacred, and the duty of the wife is to see that the fire never goes out." Revered white stick, the inau made of a peeled willow branch with shaved curls attached-blesses the fireplace. The elder treats it as "a messenger to the deities." Antique trade goods, heavy necklaces, and other inau decorate the wall. 275 EKTACHROMES(INCLUDING FO VING PAGES) (C) N.G.S.