Sunday, May 5, 2013

二風谷イタ Nibutani Ita- an Ainu pattern inspired by the scales of fish

Maki writes a regular column for the Hokkaido Newspaper on all things Ainu and this time she wrote on Nibutani-style Ita, a type of design only found in her region. 

She speaks to how in her childhood she was surrounded by amazing carvers, her father one of the leaders amongst all of them, and then touches on the diversity of designs and how they vary region to region. She then explains one design called ita. It is extremely difficult to carve this pattern, and if you can do it, you can be considered a full-fledged carver, i.e. you have come of age! This design found in the Saru River area, is inspired by the scales of a fish (in Ainu, ramram noka). (If you look at the image in the article, it is at the very top)

Along with Nibutani attus (a waterproof fabric made out of the bark of the Manchurian elm), this design was recognized in March by the government government as a traditional art form.

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