Living with the Gods
Honoring the blessings of the rich forests, rivers, and the sea, the Ainu considered that every plant and animal has a kamuy (god) inside, and lived side by side with the gods. When they made tools from wood, they took care to make the most of it; they carved it without cutting it into small pieces, preserving the beauty of the shape of the wood or the pattern of the growth rings. On the handle or mouth of each tool, abstract patterns were carved to ward off evil spirits. The ita (tray) was made without filing or coating, so that the hand-carved wood felt pleasant to the touch. These tools from olden days have a distinct complexion that comes from exposure to firewood smoke and years of use.