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Lot *1181


Estimated Value:

8.000 € - 12.000 €


incl. Premium and VAT


Japan, Hokkaido, 19th/20th c.
B. 121 cm, L. 130 cm
Elm (attush) bast fibers (ohyo), plain weave. Border and collar: cotton (indigo blue), plain weave, imported from Japan; embroidery: cotton (white) chain stitch.
The long over-garment (attush) is characteristic of the Ainu cultures in northern Japan in terms of its manufacture, material and pattern. The Ainu are an indigenous people of Japan and were once spread over large northern areas. Later, they were continuously pushed back by the Japanese, conquering more and more space. Under this pressure, only smaller groups survived in the 19th century, mainly dwelling in Hokkaido, Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. Some scientists attribute their origins to the Jōmon cultures. In addition to their own language, which is almost forgotten today, the Ainu express their cultural identity through numerous handicrafts. The production of textiles, from fiber to the finished garment, belongs to the realm of the women. Due to the climatic conditions of the northern latitudes in which the Ainu live, fibers are primarily obtained from the bast of trees, mainly elms, but also linden trees. The bark is stripped directly from the tree while it is still standing and the bast, the fibrous inner layer, is separated from the dark bark on the outside. These fibers are boiled and pounded to make them softer. The bast is then divided into finer fibers and finally twisted into threads. The weaving equipment used by the Ainu is simple. The weaver hangs the bundled warp threads with a hook on the house pillar or in summer on a tree and puts a belt around her back to maintain the tension of the threads. The fabric length is sewn together to form a kind of coat, similar to a kimono, and decorated with ribbon-like appliqués made from imported Japanese cotton, which are then embroidered over. These appliqués run along the hems, the openings of the garment and are placed on the back. They have an apotropaic character and are intended to protect the person wearing the robe from evil.
The robes used by the Ainu themselves almost always feature triangularly cut or folded sleeves. Robes with wide sleeves such as this one are a concession to the Japanese culture and are more in keeping with the cut of a Japanese kimono, or overgarment. The very rare robes of the Ainu were and still are highly prestigious and were also used in parts of Japan as a festive garment and as a symbol of power. The robe can be fastened with pairs of ribbons on the inside and outside. Inside the robe an apocryphal inscription with eight characters, some of which are barely decipherable is written in black ink. It possibly consists of a name and mentions an “island lord”. It is not clear how this designation is to be interpreted and for what purpose the robe may have been made.
From an old German private collection, collected since the 1950s - Minor signs of wear, good condition