The Beauty & Power of Ainu Patterns: Talk by Igarashi Satomi


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As part of a series of events celebrating Ainu culture in contemporary society, Japan House London welcomes Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art Chief Curator Igarashi Satomi to give a talk on the distinctive patterns that characterize Ainu decoration.

Many forms of Ainu art, such as textile arts and woodworking, are known for their intricate and stylized patterns. In the case of clothing, these patterns are created through embroidery or through stitching appliqué patches on to the garment. The creation of clothing and fabric art has historically been considered an important task for women in Ainu communities, and many patterns and designs have been passed down along maternal lines for generations. For the Ainu, this ornamentation of clothing is not only for aesthetic enjoyment; these patterns have also been considered to have magical purposes such as to ward off evil spirits.

In this talk Igarashi explores the connection between Ainu culture and the Ainu spiritual world, shining a light on the various decorative motifs that have developed alongside Ainu craft traditions.

This event is part of a season of events held in collaboration with Hokkaido Prefecture in conjunction with the opening of Upopoy, Japan’s new national museum featuring the history and culture of the Ainu, in Shiraoi, Hokkaido in May 2020.


About the speaker

A chief curator at Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Igarashi Satomi conducts research on Ainu art and Japanese contemporary painting relating to the Ainu people. She is also involved in the development of various exhibitions and events. Recent major projects relating to Ainu art include: 'AINU ART Contemporary Ainu Art and Crafts' (2012-2013), 'A World Full of Life: The Art of Fujito Takeki, an Ainu Master Carver' (2017-2018) and 'The Beauty of AINU Handiwork: From the Collection of Yanagi Sōetsu and Serizawa Keisuke' (2019-2020).


Upopoy Ftype color4 Hokkaido Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2020 at Japan House London