AN AINU PATRIARCH of OLD JAPAN. From a ca.1920 collotype photograph published in Japan. Photographer unknown.

AN AINU PATRIARCH of OLD JAPAN. From a ca.1920 collotype photograph published in Japan. Photographer unknown.

Ainu people wearing traditional clothing. The Ainu are an indigenous people of Japan (Hokkaido, and formerly northeastern Honshu) and Russia (Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands).

Ainu people wearing traditional clothing. The Ainu are an indigenous people of Japan (Hokkaido, and formerly northeastern Honshu) and Russia (Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands).

Japan | “Ainu woman with lip tattoo” | Photographer and date unknown

Japan | “Ainu woman with lip tattoo” | Photographer and date unknown

Kutoroge was met by Starr while on a bear hunt and was instantly invited to St. Louis in 1904. He was joined by his wife, Shutratek, and their daughter, Kiko. © The Field Museum

Kutoroge was met by Starr while on a bear hunt and was instantly invited to St. Louis in 1904. He was joined by his wife, Shutratek, and their daughter, Kiko. © The Field Museum

According to the mythology of the Ainu people, tattooing was brought to earth by Okikurumi Turesh Machi, the ancestral mother of the Ainu and sister of the creator god Okikurumi. Ainu girls were given lip tattoos as they grew older, customarily by grandmothers or maternal aunts. Completed lip tattoos served to repel evil spirits from the body, indicate that the woman was ready for marriage, and assure her place among her ancestors in the afterlife.

According to the mythology of the Ainu people, tattooing was brought to earth by Okikurumi Turesh Machi, the ancestral mother of the Ainu and sister of the creator god Okikurumi. Ainu girls were given lip tattoos as they grew older, customarily by grandmothers or maternal aunts. Completed lip tattoos served to repel evil spirits from the body, indicate that the woman was ready for marriage, and assure her place among her ancestors in the afterlife.

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