Sunday, October 11, 2009
I made a new mail art friend recently, who has a keen interest in minority languages. That inspired me to try an etegami that reflects the culture and language of the Ainu, the native people of northern Japan. It happens that I have been translating Ainu folklore into English for over ten years. Click here to see my blog about the Ainu translation project, Project U-e-peker.
The etegami I posted is a representation of the Shimafukurou (Blakiston's Fish Owl) which the Ainu have traditionally regarded as the guardian of Ainu villages. It is the largest owl in the world, with a wingspan that can extend to six feet (2 meters), and it is an endangered animal. The Shimafukurou features in many Ainu folktales, and I've quoted the opening lines of the most famous one on this etegami. The English version of this story can be read here, if you are interested.