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Ainu Robe (ruumpe)

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Japan Anonymous, Japanese
Ainu Robe (ruumpe), 1915-1930
Cotton
43 in. x 47 in. (109.22 cm x 119.38 cm)


Object Type: Textile
Technique: Woven
Creation Place: Asia, Japan, Ainu
Credit Line: Scripps College, Claremont, CA
Accession Number: J001


Medium
Blue and brown cotton tabby with white cotton and orange silk appliqu├ęs.

Object Description
Cotton, an imported commodity, was very valued among the Ainu.

In the ruumpe, narrow ribbons of fabric run freely in curved as well as angular lines over a base which may itself be composed of different strips of fabric. Some of the most complex and imaginative Ainu costumes were created from seemingly disparate materials, including cotton, silk, and occasionally a light wool called merinsu (in Japanese) of plain, striped. plaid or printed designs.

To the Ainu, the decoration had a magic quality of warding off evil. Thought to be particularly vulnerable were the apertures of the neck, sleeve and the hem, where harm could enter; thorny shapes were placed accordingly. On the back sometimes there are other symbols representing spirit guardians.

The ruumpe type was particularly popular in the Shiraoi and Usu areas of Southern Hokkaido, Japan.

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