Most traditional Ainu clothing is woven from locally available plant materials. The body of this robe is in a fabric called attush, made with fibers harvested from the inner bark of young elm trees. Robes worn on special occasions were decorated with cotton and silk, which had to be purchased from foreign merchants. Like most Ainu ceremonial robes, this one has decoration on the cuffs, around the hem, and on the back. The thorn-shaped motifs of the embroidery were thought to play a protective role and were placed in areas where the wearer might be more vulnerable.
Elm bark with cotton applique and silk embroidery
late 19th-early 20th century
Gift of Herman Stutzer
This item is not on view
Ainu. Man's Robe, late 19th-early 20th century. Elm bark with cotton applique and silk embroidery, 57 7/8 x 58 in. (147 x 147.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Herman Stutzer, 12.567. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 12.567_front_PS9.jpg)
front, 12.567_front_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2016
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