Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/101

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AINU FAMILY-LIFE AND RELIGION. 91

festival of killing and eating the bear, wliicli has been kept in a cage since its capture when a cub, is a sort of religious affair, and is made the occasion for much safce-drinking, and that a curious dance is performed, in which men alone take part. The feast is held in February or March (I do not make this statement in absolute contradiction of what Miss Bird says, but admit that custom may vary the time in different villages). Among the northeastern Ainu, Kusuri, and Nemuro, the women, who are offi- ciating as cooks and attendants, provide large vessels of wild strawberries (which must be kept over from the preceding sum- mer), mix the juice with water, and smear the faces of all the people who are present, even to the alien guests. All must sub- mit, as a token of friendliness This is a strange custom, and is possibly done to indicate that the bear-feast resembles something of a bloody sacrifice, for the Ainu say that the strawberry is used because the color of its juice approaches that of blood.

I will close my rambling notes on these people by an account of what I saw in one or two of their villages on the day of the eclipse of the sun (August 19, 1887). First let me say that they think an eclij)se is the effect of great sickness, which causes the sun's face to become black, as does a human being's (sometimes) when in a fit or on fainting away. I left the village of Horobetsu, on the south coast of Yezo, at about two o'clock. It was evident that the Ainu had been told of the impending disaster, for many of them were standing outside of their huts, glancing anxiously at the sun from time to time, and talking together in low, earnest tones which betrayed their apprehension. When we reached the next village, Washibetsu, the shadow of the moon had covered a good-sized segment of the sun, and the people were greatly excited. Many men were looking at the sun and moving their lips as if praying, while some had brought dishes of water, and were throw- ing the water toward the sun with their mustache-lifters and inao, just as we would dash it in the face of a person who had fainted away, to revive him. By the time we arrived at Mororan, the next village, the eclipse was all over ; the excitement had pretty nearly subsided, although a few persons were watching the sun rather closely, as if afraid that he might have a relapse and require to be revived again.

As I have tried not to go over ground which has been well worked by previous observers, I have omitted many details of the Ainu manners and customs, and it seems proper for me to give a list of books and publications, which may be referred to by those whose interest will have been sufficiently aroused to make them anxious to know more of the " Hairy People of Japan " :

" Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan." In many num- bers there are articles of more or less interest. Special attention

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