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Catalog Data

Donor Name:
National Museum of Natural History  Search this
Length - Object:
78.5 cm
Width - Object:
32 cm
Height - Object:
23 cm
Ainu  Search this
Object Type:
Religious Item
Japan, Asia
Accession Date:
16 Jun 2005
Bear skull, mounted on Y-shaped stick. Another stick is tied perpendicular to the first stick, just below the mandible of the skull. According to Chisato Dubreuil, this is a symbolic display of the bear-sending ceremony, "iyomante". After a bear is killed in the ceremony, its spirit ("kimun-kamuy") is enshrined in its skull for the duration of the ceremony. On the second day, the skull is mounted on the altar ("nusa") and the bear's spirit leaves the skull to return to the god world. The skull remains on the altar as a permanent reminder of the spirit's visit. This skull was obtained and decorated for the 1999 NMNH exhibition "Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People". Made using traditional Ainu materials and techniques. The skull was cleaned--not bleached-- by True Life Taxidermy, Middletown NY(see purchase order in accession file). Decorated by Masahiro Nomoto, curator at the Ainu Museum at Shiraoi.
Record Last Modified:
11 Jun 2020
Specimen Count:
Ethnology  Search this
Accession Number:
USNM Number:
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Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.