Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/93

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AINU FAMILY-LIFE AND RELIGION.

cup of saké, particularly if the baby be a boy and the heir. I was greatly surprised to find this near approach to the couvade in this part of the world, and this one little thing seems to separate the Ainu further than ever from the Japanese.

The children are trained to render strictest obedience to both parents; and if there be several sons, the eldest, as heir, exacts and receives implicit obedience from his younger brothers; from his sisters obedience comes without saying, so low is the social position of women. Adoption obtains to quite the same extent as among the Japanese, and the legal standing of the adopted child seems to be as absolute as if his right were that of birth. Adoption is, however, almost restricted to male children, though I was much surprised to find that one childless couple had adopted a little Japanese girl who was so young that she had never learned to speak the language of her own people.

If a man have only female children he will sometimes adopt an heir, but this is not altogether necessary, since the husband of the eldest girl will usually succeed his father-in-law; and, in order to thoroughly fit himself for his prospective heirship, he moves into his wife's home and becomes a member of her family. But if a couple be childless they will surely adopt a son, for, inasmuch as inheritance is strictly in the male line, there must be some one to take possession of the house and the personal property, and to become the head of the household. Not that it is necessary to continue the family name, for there is nothing of the kind among the Ainu. Each person has but one name, without any prefix or suffix to determine whose child he may be, and the name is often given from a mere whim; as, for example, if a baby-girl pitches upon a dirty old pot as her favorite plaything (and this is a very possible case, for toys are not common), the chances are that she will very soon be designated as "The Pot" or "The Kettle" by the family, and eventually the name will become affixed to her. Hence we may say that names are given to Ainu children very much the same way that nicknames attach themselves to children in America and Europe.

Not only are there no family names, but each person's name dies with its owner; the repetition of a name in different generations having nothing to do with the preservation of the memory of an older person. Children are not named for a rich uncle or a maiden aunt, to secure "prospects" for them. There are no posthumous names as with the Japanese, and a dead person is not spoken of by name if it can be avoided by any circumlocution; indeed, every effort is made to avoid all reference to the dead.

The adoption of an heir is not often necessary, for barren wives are sometimes sent back to their fathers; this misfortune consti-