Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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pbleed 13th March 2009 01:03 AM

Ainu knives
 
1 Attachment(s)
Dear Friends
I cotinue to be eager to join this exiting list and I beg your willingness to examine a couple Ainu knives from my collection. These would be classed as "makiri" which would make them utility belt knives. The top one is certainly a Meiji era piece. The other two are pre-War and good of kind, but probably "high end tourist" pieces. Until the mid 1970's Ainu stuff was common in Japan, but with the opening of the large ethnographic museum in Senri Park, all of the best ethnographic stuff has been vacuum out of Japan. Potential discoveries are largely in the greater world. Anything can be anywhere!
Peter

Gavin Nugent 13th March 2009 01:57 AM

Ahoy Jim
 
G'day Peter,

Ahoy Jim, I know you'd be looking forward to coming in on this subject.

Peter, would you be good enough to share the blade profiles of these pieces too.
I personally am quite taken by some of the extreme carving examples I have viewed in wood, antler and ivory.
I have also recently watched a beautifully carved piece filter through an auction house, the images I have are not very large but i'll see if I can dig them up for further comparision.
There is also another reference of a museum in the US that received a large collection of Ainu knives swords and artifacts in 1910, but I cannot at this point in time put my finger on, I'll supply it as soon as I can find it as I hope a forumite in this locality could obtain some further images from inventory the may have on display or locked away.

All for now and thanks.

Gav

Jim McDougall 13th March 2009 02:57 AM

Fantastic Peter! Thank you for posting these. I have long hoped we would get back to this most esoteric topic and the opportunity to discuss these people and thier weapons.

Gav, the book published by the Smithsonian is "Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People" , William W. Fitzhugh, 1999, and is on the material culture displayed in the exhibit my that name at the National Museum of Natural History there. ..Arctic Studies Center. It is found online under that title.

Looking forward to this one!!!:)

All the best,
Jim

Gavin Nugent 13th March 2009 07:45 AM

6 Attachment(s)
Peter, Jim,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Gav, the book published by the Smithsonian is "Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People" , William W. Fitzhugh, 1999, and is on the material culture displayed in the exhibit my that name at the National Museum of Natural History there. ..Arctic Studies Center. It is found online under that title.


I will be sure to look it up Jim, thanks! If I can find a copy of the book with cheap freight to Australia I will be sure to grab a copy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by freebooter
There is also another reference of a museum in the US that received a large collection of Ainu knives swords and artifacts in 1910, but I cannot at this point in time put my finger on, I'll supply it as soon as I can find it as I hope a forumite in this locality could obtain some further images from inventory the may have on display or locked away.Gav


The Museum I was speaking of in the Brooklyn Museum, In 1910 Stewart Culin, the museums first curator of Ethnology gathered an exceptional Ainu collection from abroad that was further supplemented by Professor Frederick Starr's collection which I beleive was displayed in 1904 at the "Louisiana Purchase Exhibition", an Ainu Exhibit.


The Piece pictured below is 36cms long.

Gav

Jim McDougall 13th March 2009 03:49 PM

Well done Gav! I hadn't heard of that one, at least I can't remember.....I've got to do some excavation here in the bookmobile to see if I can find my notes on this topic! Hmmmm............closet? oven? ........under the bed? :)

Nicely carved piece BTW.....I am wondering if the carved ivory is significant for status, or if perhaps there were regional preferences. From what I have understood, Ainu edged weapons were virtually always ceremonial in sense, except for the utility of the knives 'makiri' as Peter has described.

I cannot think of the term for sword offhand but I think it is 'emushi' or to that effect. I do recall that the woven and highly decorated sash used in wearing the sword is of key personal importance, and received nearly as much attention as the sword itself.

I believe also that at the St. Louis exposition, there were a group of Ainu brought there, and actually worked at thier amazing crafts while there. There were a good number of Ainu items, especially some of the weapons, that came out of this exhibition and many became part of the holdings in some museums, I think including the Smithsonian.

I think it is fascinating to learn more on this people, and the isolated place they held away from general history for so long, despite being so highly active in trade and intercontinental contact. I can recall over the years that items that were Ainu were so incredibly esoteric that they were often wildly misidentified, though in most cases at least there was some plausibility involved.



Peter, I've noticed that one feature that seems consistant with the Ainu weapons is the overall arc shape when the weapon is sheathed. Is there any particular significance symbolically or in Ainu tradition to which this might be associated?

All the best,
Jim

pbleed 15th March 2009 01:18 AM

Ainu?
 
Fiends,
Well, gee. I have been involved in the petty pace and slow in replying. There are 2 issues that need comment.
1. The small ivory knife frm the Brooklyn Museum that Gav posted. Far be it from me to disagree with the experts in Brooklyn, BUT, I am pretty sure that this is NOT Ainu. I would bet that it is early 19th century Japanese work in what is called a "topei" style mouting and that it is basically a flower arrangment tool. I have seen these little knifesd almost Netsuke size in a style rather like Ainu blades, but I am sure that this one is pure Japanese. I say that for 2 reasons. First the work in ivory is very well done, professional rather than "folk." The motifs are not very 'Ainu.' Second, the blade - inside sharpened, scoll clipped tip -is right out of flower arrangement. But, hey, can museums make mistakes?
2. To Jim's statement about "ceremonial use" of Ainu swords, I would say "Well, yes, but..." Makiri and bush knifes were basically working tools. I'll post a couple more images tomorrow to illustrate these types. The ainu also had longer swords that were large "trade goods" from Japanese officials. I think these overwhelmingly WERE used as symbolic and 'ceremonial" rigs that marked " 'portant people.
Peter

Gavin Nugent 15th March 2009 06:03 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by pbleed
Fiends,
1. The small ivory knife frm the Brooklyn Museum that Gav posted. Far be it from me to disagree with the experts in Brooklyn, BUT, I am pretty sure that this is NOT Ainu. Peter


G'day Peter, just to be clear this is a knife that was passed as an AInu knife in an auction.

I have not had the pleasure of viewing anything from the Brooklyn museum other than what I have seen in print.

Thank you very much for pointing out what the piece is though and I am glad I refrained from bidding and I can adjust my notes.

I look forward to viewing your blades when the chance comes along.

Gav

Jim McDougall 15th March 2009 12:41 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by pbleed
Fiends,
Well, gee. I have been involved in the petty pace and slow in replying. There are 2 issues that need comment.
1. The small ivory knife frm the Brooklyn Museum that Gav posted. Far be it from me to disagree with the experts in Brooklyn, BUT, I am pretty sure that this is NOT Ainu. I would bet that it is early 19th century Japanese work in what is called a "topei" style mouting and that it is basically a flower arrangment tool. I have seen these little knifesd almost Netsuke size in a style rather like Ainu blades, but I am sure that this one is pure Japanese. I say that for 2 reasons. First the work in ivory is very well done, professional rather than "folk." The motifs are not very 'Ainu.' Second, the blade - inside sharpened, scoll clipped tip -is right out of flower arrangement. But, hey, can museums make mistakes?
2. To Jim's statement about "ceremonial use" of Ainu swords, I would say "Well, yes, but..." Makiri and bush knifes were basically working tools. I'll post a couple more images tomorrow to illustrate these types. The ainu also had longer swords that were large "trade goods" from Japanese officials. I think these overwhelmingly WERE used as symbolic and 'ceremonial" rigs that marked " 'portant people.
Peter



Thank you so much Peter, this is outstanding information!! and valuable for adjusting the shambles of my notes. I really appreciate your sharing your knowledge on these here, as I know that you are one of few people I am aware of who has actually studied this subject in detail.
I join with Gav in really looking forward to more discussion on the Ainu weapons, and have long felt that it would be great to have the topic developed in more depth here. The detail on the flower arranging knives is great, and I had never even thought of such an item. What resource would have more on these, for identification if someone were to begin collecting them for example?

If I may, you have noted that the small knife is Japanese, would it be safe to say that the arc shape of these weapons overall is something adopted from Japanese style? I know that the Ainu maintained very close trade and diplomatic ties with them in nominal degree, and probably in regional selectivity, but your notes on the larger Japanese swords and thier use is well placed.
Although I have noted the ceremonial use, I cannot help thinking that these very effective swords might have been used in some degree, even if only in specific events. If I recall correctly, the bow and arrow were the primary weapon.

Thank you again Peter, it really is fantastic to have you posting here!!!!

All the best,
Jim

Gavin Nugent 15th March 2009 01:06 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall

Thank you again Peter, it really is fantastic to have you posting here!!!!

All the best,
Jim


I second that Peter, please continue!!!

Gav

ausjulius 17th March 2009 02:15 PM

there wasa website some place on the net showing ainu swords and knives.. but i cant recall the web address.. it had some interestiong information in it .


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