This film is part of Free
The Ainus of Japan
This ethnographic film offers a brief overview of the traditional culture of the Ainu, an ethnic minority in Japan.
The Ainu are Japan’s indigenous ethnic group native to Hokkaido and parts of Russia's far east. As implied in the German title, by 1913 they were regarded as a ‘dying indigenous population’. The film appears to be a brief anthropological study of the Ainu culture, documenting their traditional dance, their drinking ceremony, and also the custom by which married women receive a moustache-like tattoo on their upper lip. Today, the Ainu population of Hokkaido is about 17,000. (Kosuke Fujiki)
BFI silent film curator Bryony Dixon adds: This film was made for the Selig Polyscope Company by American anthropologist Frederick Starr, who made a particular study of Japan and the Ainu. He negotiated for a group of Ainu to go to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (the St Louis World’s Fair) of 1904 as an exhibit, an all-too common racist practice at World’s Fairs during the 19th and early 20th centuries.