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Thread: The Ainu.

  1. #1
    Senior Member Senior Member Kurando's Avatar
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    I know that the Ainu are original inhabitants of Japan and are in many ways different culturally and racially from the persons we commonly consider ethnic Japanese. But who exactly were these people + were they there before the Jomon period?

    Also, I've heard that the original Ainu are actually classified as "Caucasoids"? Hence, are the depleted Ainu comminities which still exist in Hokkaido "original Ainu" or has their bloodline become perminantly dissolved similar to Pictish Poeple who formarly inhabited the British Isles?

    Modern civilization is a vast conspiracy against silence

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    Senior Member Senior Member Idaho's Avatar
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    So much to deal with here....

    I'll take the simple bit first.

    The Ainu and Ezo were the original inhabitants of the Japanese islands. During the Jomon period a number of migrations occured from China, Korea and possibly Polynesia. These new arrivals pushed the Ezo, and the Ainu into the North. The Ezo don't exist anymore. Perhaps they were incorporated into either the migrants or the Ainu - or both.

    Now for the tricky bit. You mention 'bloodlines becoming dissolved'. This is a popular way to see human genetics - and one that comes from the Victorian period. Ideas that there are distinct 'races' that are seperate and different.

    In truth there is no such thing as races. When we look around the world we see different groups of people with common cultures and common physical traits; we have labelled that 'race'. In fact, on a genetic level there is little basis for seeing two humans as different. The furthest you can go is to see certain genetic traits being more or less common in certain areas. The genetic differences between any two humans is far greater than the genetic differences between any two 'races'.

    When people talk of 'bloodlines' it seems as if they are talking about a distinct group of humans - seperate from all others. And when those humans breed with others they are 'dissolving' their special-ness. Most recent comparative genetic surveys of populations have shown that inter-marriage (or at least sexual contact) between seperate cultural and geographical groups, has always been commonplace.

    There was a recent study that took, at random, a Japanese, an Afro-Carribean, someone from Europe and someone from Central Asia. It used genetic mapping to trace back common ancestors of the four. The Afro-Carribean and the European had a common great, great grandfather; The Japanese and the European had a common ancestor about 6 generations before. The person from Central Asia didn't have a common ancestor until about 800 years before - and they all could be traced back about 2000 years to one common father. Where is the racial 'purity' in that? Are they being 'dissolved'?

    Go and find the ancient Picts of Scotland and they were no more 'pure' or 'distinct' than any other human.

    There's only one race - the human race.
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    Senior Member Senior Member Kurando's Avatar
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    Sorry you were compelled to type all of that Idaho; that wasn't what I was driving at. -I'll try to rephrase myself.

    Admittedly there is some degree of difference in the physical features of caucasians and asians. Hence, I was wondering if the Ainu of present-day Hokkaido have retained the physical features/characteristics/appearance of their (Russian?) ancestors, or do they now harbour distinctly/exclusively asian features? For that matter, were the original Ezo/Ainu Caucasoids at all??

    Our own society is so PC these days that I feel like I'm walking on egg shells with the mere mention these issues + I hope no one here takes it as paramount to an indescression. To my mind the origin of Japan's Native-People, is not a racial issue, but rather is a matter of historical interest.

    Modern civilization is a vast conspiracy against silence

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    Senior Member Senior Member Idaho's Avatar
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    It is a tricky subject if approached wrong - like a horse... but that shouldn't stop you feeding it sugar lumps and going for a little ride now and again. I love getting lost in metaphor.

    I am really intersted in ethnicity and human groups. Notice I avoid using the word 'race'. I actually don't have that much problem with the word - it's just that is usually means that people don't understand the terms they use. I also really enjoy talking about it - especially with you funny North American human group .

    The thing to be aware of (and hence avoid any pitfalls) is to talk in terms of common genetic traits and culture - that's what makes us all different, and unique.

    I can also understand peoples hostility to things they consider PC. But what the PC movement was about was to be aware of how language has been used as an oppressive tool - and to try and deal with that. Of course there are extreme examples, but none of those are as extreme as those who deliberately seek to offend by using non-pc language.

    Sorry to hijack your thread...

    I have seen some pics of Ainu - they look Mongolian - in a pale Japanese kinda way...
    "The republicans will draft your kids, poison the air and water, take away your social security and burn down black churches if elected." Gawain of Orkney

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    Naughty Little Hippy Senior Member Tachikaze's Avatar
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    One only has to look at the people of Brazil to realize that race is a myth. If one tends to categorize people into racial groups, good luck there.

    I think some people draw a realationship between Ainu and Indo-Europeans because of the waviness of their hair, shape of the skull, etc. These are traits uncommon in the people of the immediately surrounding lands.

    I don't know if they have found any other genetic links, but it may be that people are just associating visual features of Ainu with those of Indo-Europeans, as if Indo-Europeans have a monopoly on certain features.

    Hey, maybe Indo-Europeans came from Hokkaido!

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    [This message has been edited by Tachikaze (edited 12-08-2000).]


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    Member Member hach's Avatar
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    watched a channel on cable recently.
    apparantly according to the programme there is only 1(yep 1)full blooded ainu left though there are about 25'000 ainu in general.

    the man looked more like western asians from places like kazaktzan(don't know how to spell it) and azerbjan(another one i can't spell) and i remember he had very hairy arms(very hairy)

    anyway i can say with certainty he did not look caucasian(white) to me.

    hach
    The greatest thrill in life is not to Kill' but to let live!

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    Senior Member Senior Member The Daimyo's Avatar
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    Wow...cool thread....

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    Senior Member Senior Member The Black Ship's Avatar
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    . Recent scholarship suggests the Ainu are related to the Tungusic, Altaic, and Uralic peoples of Siberia.-Encarta Encyclopedia.

    Well that's the latest anthropologic thinking, earlier observations were probably tainted by physical appearance (light complexion, hairiness, curly hair etc...)
    All we are saying....is give peas a chance - Jolly Green Giant

  9. #9

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    After watching a recent documentary that discussed the Ainu, it immediately struck me that their cultural traits, such as dance and costume, were a lovely fusion of the Eastern Ural cultures and that of the Japanese. For a superficial example: kimono-like dress with fur-lined hats.

    In regard to the beginning of this thread, I see culture as a far more telling insight than race: race is skin deep, culture is brain deep. Genetics do determine certain behavior (example: I've read that Japanese have lower tolerance for alcohol than Nothern Europeans), but I believe that to fixate upon these minor issues is to ignore the true nature of human development on earth.

    It's really the same old "environment vs. heredity" argument. And quite honestly, the homegenaity of humans makes the genetic argument quite tiresome. If we were talking about different species of ants or monkeys, you would have a debate. But wide-ranging human migration has led to a lack of isolation, which allows for the evolutionary specialization that leads to real differences in species.

    We're all far, far closer to being the same than different.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Senior Member Idaho's Avatar
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    What an enlightened bunch we are!
    "The republicans will draft your kids, poison the air and water, take away your social security and burn down black churches if elected." Gawain of Orkney

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