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"The Ainu Family." (Taken during the 1904 World's Fair) (cropped)

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"The Ainu Family." (Taken during the 1904 World's Fair) (cropped)

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Title: "The Ainu Family." (Taken during the 1904 World's Fair).

The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, commonly known as the Saint Louis World's Fair of 1904, was the last great international exposition before World War I. The fair, built on a 1,200 acre site, included hundreds of thousands of objects, people, animals, displays, and publications from 62 exhibiting countries and 43 of the 45 states. The setting of world records, such as the largest organ, and working displays of every important technological advance were significant design goals. The Fair was a combination of trade show, civic showpiece, and monument to culture, along with more than a tinge of American pride. The Fair showcased the grandiose ambition of the gilded age, forming a kind of collective tribute to the nineteenth century's international understanding of the furtherance of peace, prosperity, and progress. It's a grand snapshot in time of American and foreign societies as they wished to portray themselves.

The Ainu are an indigenous people of Japan with a distinct culture and history. Their traditional way of life was based on hunting, fishing and gathering, and they have a deep spiritual connection to the natural world. The Ainu language is unique and unlike any other language in Japan. In Ainu culture, bears are considered sacred and are believed to be messengers between the human and spiritual worlds. The Ainu have a tradition of bear worship and hold annual ceremonies to honour and thank the bears for their gifts of meat, fur and bones. Tattooing is also an important part of Ainu culture, with both men and women getting tattoos on their arms, hands and faces. These tattoos were often used to indicate social status or to mark important life events. In the past, the Ainu faced discrimination and assimilation policies from the Japanese government, which led to a decline in their population and cultural practices. In recent years, however, there has been a renewed interest in Ainu culture and efforts to preserve and celebrate their traditions.

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Date

1904
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Source

Missouri History Museum
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public domain

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