Sacred Texts Japan Ainu Index Previous Next
|There was a woman who was ever sitting by the window and doing some kind of needle-work or other;
|In the window1 of the house there was a large cup filled to the brim with wine, upon which floated a ceremonial moustache-lifter.2
|The ceremonial moustache-lifter was dancing3 about upon the top of the winecup.
|In explaining the subject from the beginning, and setting it forth from the end, the tale runs thus:—
|Now look, do you think that the great God, do you think that the true God was blind?
|In Ainu land there was a great famine, and the Ainu were dying from want of food; yet with what little rice-malt and with what little millet they had they made (a cup of) wine.
|Now, the great God had mercy, and, in order that our relatives might eat, produced both deer and fish.
|And the great God had mercy upon us, therefore He looked upon us and, in truth, saw that in Ainu-land there was a famine and that the Ainu had nothing to eat.
|Then was that cup of wine emptied into six4 lacquer-ware5 vessels.
|In a very little while the scent of the wine filled the whole house.
|Therefore were all the gods led6 in, and the gods of places were brought from everywhere;
|And they were all well pleased with that delicious wine.
|Then the goddesses7 of the rivers and the goddesses of the mouths of rivers danced back and forth in the house.
|Upon this all the gods p. 115 laughed with smiles upon their faces;
|And whilst they looked at the goddesses, they saw them pluck out two hairs from a deer;
|And, as it were, blow them over the tops of the mountains; then appeared two herds of deer skipping upon the mountain tops, one of bucks and the other of does.
|Then they plucked out two scales from a fish, and, as it were, blew them over the rivers, and the beds of the rivers were so crowded with fish that they scraped upon the stones, and the tops of the rivers were so full that the fish stood out like the porches of houses and were dried up by the sun.
|So the things called fish filled all the rivers to the brim.
|Then the Ainu went fishing and caused their p. 116 boats to dance upon the rivers.
|The young men now found fish and venison in rich abundance.
|Hence it is that Ainu-land is so good. Hence it is that from ancient times till now there has been hunting. Hence it is that there are inheritors to this hunting.
NOTE ON VERSE 2.
1 This puyara or window is always placed in the east end of a hut. It is the sacred window, and no person may look into a hut through it without incurring the penalty of great displeasure from the owner thereof. The Ainu often worship towards the sun rising through it, and always, in their libations, three drops of wine are thrown towards it. Outside of this window there are always clusters of whittled willow sticks, called inao or nusa, to be seen.
These are placed there as offerings to the gods, as a sign to them of the devoutness of the worshipper. Besides these willow offerings, one may often see long poles stuck into the earth having the skulls of bears or deer placed upon them as a sign of thankfulness for success in the hunt. This window, then, being so sacred and, in a sense, the peculiar property of the gods, we may easily understand why a large, well filled cup of wine was placed before it. It was an offering, and was placed there to solicit the favour of the gods.
2 The ceremonial moustache-lifters are peculiarly made, and are used for special religious purposes. They are of different patterns. Some have bears and some have deer carved upon them. The present one, however, is called Kikeush bashui, i.e., a moustache-lifter with shavings left upon the top of it. It is especially used at worship when supplications are made for any particular benefits. Those which have animals carved upon them are generally used when thanks are made to the gods, whilst a common moustache-lifter, having no particular carving upon it, is used on general occasions, as for instance, when some news of any kind is being made known, or when a friend or relative makes a call.
The use of these moustache-lifters is peculiar. The raison d'être seems to be: First, to keep the moustache out of the wine, and secondly, to offer drops of drink to the gods with. Three drops must be given to the fire goddess, three thrown towards the east window, three towards the north-east corner of the hut where the Ainu treasures are kept, and then three drops must be offered to any special god for whose benefit libations are offered or to whom the Ainu are paying worship.
Wine enters very largely into the religious worship of the Ainu, and they often make religion a pretext for getting intoxicated. It has occurrcd to me that perhaps this legend of the famine is kept alive only in order to show how good a thing it is to make wine and how well-pleasing to the gods it is to offer libations to them. It was the smell of the wine which drew the gods together, it was wine which pleased the goddesses and made them dance, it was wine again which caused the male gods to smile; in short, it was all owing to this one large cup of wine that food was brought to the Ainu and that there are any of them alive now. It was the wine which even caused the moustache-lifter to float about and dance upon the top of the cup! What a sight is a full cup of wine to an Ainu! How quickly his eyes sparkle and dance with delight when he sees it! The very sound of the word sake or tonoto makes him smack his lips.
NOTE ON VERSE 3.
3 The word tereke-tereke, which I have here translated by "dancing about," really means to "jump," "skip," or "hop about." Here two ideas are introduced:—First the cup was so full of wine that the very moustache-lifter could float upon it without touching the brim; secondly the moustache-lifter was so pleased that it could not contain itself, but must needs skip, jump, hop or dance about with delight! So good and pwerful was the wine.
NOTE ON VERSE 4.
This is merely an Ainu idiom and expresses the idea that this particular subject should be thoroughly explained and set forth.
NOTE ON VERSE 5.
The idea contained in these lines seems to be this:—Though the Aiuu were in such straits, yet it was not without the knowledge of the gods; and it was not possible that they should neglect this large cup of delicious wine which was placed in the window for their special delectation. It was made and placed there in order to get the gods together that they might talk over this mighty famine, to put them into a good temper and cause them to help the Ainu in this their sad calamity. No! the gods were not blind.
NOTE ON VERSE 6.
Though food was so very scarce, yet what little rice or millet the Ainu had they gave it up to the gods. They made a little choice wine as an offering and presented it to them. Hence may be seen the devoutness of the ancients. The result was as is stated in the 7th verse; fish and venison were caused to abound! The prayer was heard and answered.
NOTE ON VERSE 9.
4 Six appears to be the sacred or perfect number of the Ainu; hence, a little of the wine was put into each of the six lacquer-ware vessels.
5 These lacquer-ware vessels are of Japanese make and are highly prized by the Ainu. In fact, they look upon them as special treasures, and the importance of a man is measured by the number of these vessels in his possession, and by the number of old swords he has. It is said that, in ancient times, the Japanese rulers used to sell these vessels to the Ainu, well filled with sake, of course, for fish and the skins of animals. Money was never paid for these things. Hence, at a drinking ceremony the very best lacquer-ware vessels are produced; the wine is poured into them and then ladled out into wine-cups, and handed round. Strange to say, the women are allowed to come in and sit behind their husbands and drink, if anything is handed to them, though they must never take part in the prayers. The women, however, get very little wine indeed! Wine was made for gods and men, not for women. The mistress in whose house the libations are offered is allowed to produce a bottle—not a large one, to be sure, but still a bottle—which is filled and kept for her private use! The lucky woman generally hides this bottle, lest her loving husband should steal it and relieve her of the contents thereof!
NOTE ON VERSE 11.
6 The work ashke auk, which I have here translated by "led in," really means "to be led in by the hand." The Ainu have a very curious custom of taking persons by the hand and leading them into the house; it is a sign of great honour to be so led. It is considered to be the height of disrespect to enter an Ainu hut without first giving warning of one's presence; but as there are no doors on the huts, a caller thus being unable to knock before entering, he must wait outside and cough or make a noise with his throat til some one comes out and either asks him to walk in or takes him by the hand and leads him to a seat by the fire. Thus, out of great respect, the gods were led into the hut by the hand.
NOTE ON VERSE 13.
7 Petru-ush mat is the goddess of rivers from their source to their outlet, and Chiwashekot mat presides over their mouths.
* Inusa-inusa appears to be the name of the tune or tone of voice in which the legend is recited.