mardi 17 avril 2012

Inaw, Ainu prayers to the spiritual world

Inau or Inaw, Ainu: イナウ or イナゥ, is an Ainu term for a ritual wood shaving stick used in Ainu prayers to the spiritual world. They were used in most Ainu religious rituals, and were also frequently made to request assistance for hunting and childbirth. Some can be used multiple times, while others are destroyed immediately after one use.
Their size and the direction in which they are shaved depends on which kamuy it is offered to and what is being requested. Inaw are indispensable sticks used in Ainu prayers to the spiritual world. Inaw are offered to the Ainu gods "kamui" and used to drive evil spirits away.
Making inaw is one of the most important jobs for men. The bark of a branch is first peeled and then a knife called an "inawke-makiri", is repeatedly used to shave the wood into thin curled strips that form a tuft.

With the exception of funerals, inau were an important part of rituals involving kamuy. Because only men were permitted to participate in religious rituals, only men could make inau.

In addition to personal use, inau were also used in larger ceremonies. Ainu bear ceremonies featured a large number of inau, of all different kinds. Certain elders, known as ekashi, would also use inau in ceremonies to control the weather. Finally, inau were used by hunters both before and during a hunt to bring good luck.
Inau sticks

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