"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Ainu People: Graffiti-Inspired Tattoos

Ainu woman by Joseph Deniker
The Ainu are a group of indigenous people from Hakkaido, Japan. The cruise I would like to take next year has a tour to visit these wonderful people. Having been an anthropology major for my undergraduate and master's degrees, I love studying indigenous cultures.

In 2008, Japan called upon its people to recognize the Ainu as "an indigenous people with a distinct language, religion and culture". More information on these noble people can be found on Wikipedia here.

One of the most fascinating things about them is their tattoo techniques, which are so graffiti-inspired. 

To me, the most interesting thing is the reasoning for these tattoos and the fact that only women had these tattoos. The last Ainu tattooed woman died in 1998. The reasoning for these tattoos is to dispel evil spirits from entering the mouth. Girls were started with small tattoos when 7 or 8 years old, and then the tattoos were enlarged as they grew older toward child-bearing years. The arm tattoos also were to dispel evil spirits.

One of the best articles I found on this is from Lars Krutak and can be read here. Fascinating!

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