We are honored to share the beauty and important history of these traditional Ainu Robes with you! Ainu, an indigenous people of Japan, mainly reside in Hokkaido (the Northern island of Japan) , and some parts of the Kuril Islands, and Sakhalin.
It was only 13 years ago that the Ainu finally gained Japanese parliamentary recognition as a people with a "distinct language, religion, and culture." The long history of oppression and continued discrimination against the Ainu people has led to the diminishment of Ainu tradition and culture. With less than 20,000 Ainu people living in Hokkaido, the work to keep this culture alive has become a severe priority for this community.
In the Ainu community, these robes function as protection not only from nature and weather but also to prevent evil spirits from entering the body - trapping them within the intricate maze-like designs embroidered on their attire. Historically, Ainu wove their cloth from fiber derived of tree bark - using the earth as a primary resource for their textiles.
We hope to further bring recognition to this vibrant culture and their incredible textile work with this collection of Ainu Robes from Hokkaido, Japan. In order to further support this community we have vowed to donate 10% of our makings from these robes to the Ainu Association of Hokkaidohere.
To find more information about this indigenous community of Japan, please read our blog posthere.
These Ainu Robes were made in the 1970s as traditional festival wear. Using bright and vibrant colors, these robes depart from the traditional, subtle colors that were normally used, showing the inspiration from other cultures at the time.