MUST READ! Inside The Japanese Tribe That Worship Bear As Their God • illuminaija
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MUST READ! Inside The Japanese Tribe That Worship Bear As Their God

   
   

MUST READ! Inside The Japanese Tribe That Worship Bear As Their God

Bear worship (also known as the bear cult or arctolatry) is the religious practice of the worshiping of bears found in many North Eurasian ethnic religions such as the Sami, Nivkh, Ainu,[1] pre-Christian Basques, and Finns.

MUST READ! Inside The Japanese Tribe That Worship Bear As Their God

The Ainu people, who live on select islands in the Japanese archipelago, call the bear “kamuy” in their language, which translates to mean “god”.

While many other animals are considered to be gods in the Ainu culture, the bear is the head of the gods.

For the Ainu, when the gods visit the world of man, they don fur and claws and take on the physical appearance of an animal.

MUST READ! Inside The Japanese Tribe That Worship Bear As Their God

   
   

Usually, however, when the term “kamuy” is used, it essentially means a bear. 

The Ainu people willingly and thankfully ate the bear as they believed that the disguise (the flesh and fur) of any god was a gift to the home that the god chose to visit.

While on Earth – the world of man – the Ainu believed that the gods appeared in the form of animals. 

The gods had the capability of taking human form, but they only took this form in their home, the country of the gods, which is outside the world of man.

MUST READ! Inside The Japanese Tribe That Worship Bear As Their God

To return a god back to his country, the people would sacrifice and eat the animal sending the god’s spirit away with civility. This ritual is called Omante and usually involves a deer or adult bear.

Omante occurred when the people sacrificed an adult bear, but when they caught a bear cub they performed a different ritual which is called Iomante, in the Ainu language or Kumamatsuri in Japanese. 

Kumamatsuri translates to “ bear festival” and Iomante means “sending off”. 

The event of Kumamatsuri began with the capture of a young bear cub.

As if he was a child given by the gods, the cub was fed human food from a carved wooden platter and was treated better than Ainu children for they thought of him as a god.

If the cub was too young and lacked the teeth to properly chew food, a nursing mother will let him suckle from her own breast. 

MUST READ! Inside The Japanese Tribe That Worship Bear As Their God

When the cub reaches 2–3 years of age, the cub is taken to the altar and then sacrificed. Usually, Kumamatsuri occurs in midwinter when the bear meat is the best from the added fat.  

The villagers will shoot it with both normal and ceremonial arrows, make offerings, dance, and pour wine on top of the cub corpse.

The words of sending off for the bear god are then recited. This festivity lasts for three days and three nights to properly return the bear god to his home.

   
   

In 1925-1927 N. P. Dyrenkova made field observations of bear worship among the Altai, Tubalar (Tuba-Kiji), Telengit, and Shortsi of the Kuznetskaja Taiga as well as among the Sagai tribes in the regions of Minussinsk, near the Kuznetskaja Taiga.

Though the practice is no longer widespread, it is still done in some areas.

   
   

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