Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/91

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AINU FAMILY-LIFE AND RELIGION.

AINU FAMILY-LIFE AND RELIGION.
By J. K. GOODRICH.

UP to the age of three or four years an Ainu child is called ai-ai (baby), without regard to sex. From that age until about seven, a boy is called sontak and a girl opere. From seven until about sixteen or eighteen a lad is called heikachi, and a maid matkachi. After that age a maid is called shiwentep, or woman. From eighteen to thirty a young man is called okkaibo or okkaiyo; after the age of thirty a man is an Ainu—that is, "a man."

The boy is trained in fishing and hunting by his father and the other men of the village, and at the age of about twelve accompanies the men in their manly vocations. The girl assists her mother and the older females of the family in gardening and cooking; in cleaning, salting, and curing fish; in spinning, weaving cloth, and making clothes; and generally in all the drudgery of the household, for the Ainu man is as lofty in his notions that labor is beneath his dignity as is the North American Indian.

While not as demonstrative in their affection for their children, I think the Ainu parents love their little ones quite as tenderly as any other people; and if Miss Bird's observation is correct, they have one pleasant way of displaying their affection which one does not see through the length and breadth of the empire of Japan, and that is the kiss of affection.

There is no ceremony of any kind, nor isolation of the mother, before the birth of a child. As the women are not allowed to offer prayers or take any active part in religious observances, the prospective mother can not ask the gods for their assistance at the time of delivery in order to make parturition easy; indeed, it would probably never enter the head of an Ainu woman to thus interfere with the course of Nature. The father, always preferring sons, and being extremely anxious for a male heir, if he has none already, will pray to the gods to give him a son, and offer libations of saké to the goddess of fire, if his means admit of the expense, or his desire is sufficiently keen to justify the extravagance.

Parturition is very easy, due to the active habits of the women, and is greatly assisted by their physical conformation, as they have broad hips and great strength in the pelvic region. The woman continues her daily tasks until the labor-pains actually come on. She then retires to her hut, where she is attended by a few of her most intimate relations, and, if it be her first baby, her mother will doubtless officiate as midwife. As the kneeling position which a woman assumes at the time of delivery greatly facili-