Photographing Ainu Subjects

Ainu Types, Attributed to von Fricken, c. 1890s. These images were collected by British traveler Charles H. Hawes, who published an account of his travels in East Asia. PM 20003.1.2223.241
Ainu Types, Attributed to von Fricken, c. 1890s. These images were collected by British traveler Charles H. Hawes, who published an account of his travels in East Asia. PM 20003.1.2223.15368
Ainu Types, Attributed to von Fricken, c. 1890s. These images were collected by British traveler Charles H. Hawes, who published an account of his travels in East Asia. PM 20003.1.2223.15369
Group of Men and Boys, Aino, H.M. Miller, c. 1890s. H.M, Miller produced photographs of Ainu subjects for the Free Museum of Science and Art, University of Pennsylvania. PM 2004.29.15395
Two Aino Women, Aino, H.M. Miller, c. 1890s. Miller produced photographs of Ainu subjects for the Free Museum of Science and Art, University of Pennsylvania. PM 2004.29.15388
Sub-Tropical Growth in South of Sakhalin, Ainu Types, Attributed to von Fricken, c. 1890s. These images were collected by British traveler Charles H. Hawes, who published an account of his travels in East Asia. PM 2004.29.15378
Ainu Huts, Ainu Types, Attributed to von Fricken, c. 1890s. These images were collected by British traveler Charles H. Hawes, who published an account of his travels in East Asia. PM 2004.29.15380
The Bear's Constitutional, Ainu Types, Attributed to von Fricken, c. 1890s. These images were collected by British traveler Charles H. Hawes, who published an account of his travels in East Asia. PM 2004.29.15381
Ainu Portrait with Stick, Aino, H.M. Miller, c. 1890s. H.M, Miller produced photographs of Ainu subjects for the Free Museum of Science and Art, University of Pennsylvania. PM 2004.29.15389

The indigenous people of northern Japan, the Ainu, were the only group in the country that was consistently the subject of both tourist and scientific photography. Images produced by commercial and scientific photographers appeared in travelogues and tourist albums as well as in scientific studies in anthropology, medicine, and other fields. These images often reinforced widely held views that the Ainu were Japan’s “vanishing race” or “noble savage.” 

Visible Ainu cultural practices such as tattooing and body adornment, as well as Ainu physiognomy, such as eye shape and body hair, were repeatedly photographed and discussed in tourist and scientific literature as evidence of the “primitive” state of the Ainu people and culture. Photographs in this section are examples of the kind of photography produced by and for scientists.