What Is The Cultural History Behind Female Ainu Tattoos?


1 Answers

elizabeth murray Profile
Ainu women are traditionally tattooed from the onset of puberty. Soot from burnt birch bark is traditionally used, and gradually built up. Ainu females commonly display tattoos on their foreheads, mouths, hands and even genitalia.

Ainu culture expects women to be tattooed before marriage. Ancient Ainu rites state that without doing so the woman is committing a sin and will die in the process. Female tattoos are seen as a show of strength and stamina, and an indicator of their wearer's ability to cope with child birth.

The women adorn their bodies with images of Ainu goddesses. This is thought to ward off evil spirits and so prevent sickness and bad luck. The tattoos, therefore, are also used for protection.

The oldest traditional female Ainu tattoo was the lip tattoo that was officially outlawed in 1871. The tattoo looked like a permanent smile, or moustache, and was considered a symbol of beauty. The exposure of this practice to the western world saw its demise in Ainu culture.

Answer Question