Nibutani carved wooden tray Photo:Nibutani folk handicraft association

Nibutani carved wooden tray Nibutani ita

Created by the wooden texture and the traditional Ainu pattern
Master skills that convey the Romanticism of ancient history


What is Nibutani carved wooden tray ?

Nibutani Ita is a carved wooden tray produced in Biratori-cho, Saru County, Hokkaido. The origin of the town name, Biratori-cho, is an Ainu word for a cliff, Pirautouru. The characteristic of Nibutani Ita are its patterns. A spiral pattern called Mourenoka, a thorn-shaped pattern called Aiushinoka and an eye-shaped pattern called Shikunoka (all three words are Ainu) are combined to express a beautiful Ainu design. Furthermore, Nibutani Ita always has carved scale-shapes called Ramuramunoka which fill the space between the other patterns. The tray was used daily in the days of the Ainu and it is valued as a delicate craft by modern craftsmen today.


Nibutani carved wooden tray - History Photo:Nibutani folk handicraft association

Although Nibutani Ita is assumed to be a tray because of its shape, a song in the folklore of Ainu, Uepekere, mentions Nibutani Ita as a plate on which food was served directly. Blades were a must item for Ainu life and to be able to use the blades skillfully gave men status. For this reason, an Ainu man would put all his energy into making a carved wooden item for a woman who he fancied when they reached marriageable age. With this background, the Ainu-carved wooden items, including Nibutani Ita, have long been used as expensive gifts, presents for exchange or commercial items.
During the Ansei era (1854 – 1859) at the end of the Edo period (1603 – 1868), it was recorded that Nibutani Ita was among the gifts to the Bakufu (government) of the Matsumae Domain. In 1873, Nibutani Ita was exhibited at the EXPO in Vienna. Nibutani Ita was designated as a traditional national craft for the first time in Hokkaido in March 2013.

General Production Process

Nibutani carved wooden tray - General Production Process Photo:Nibutani folk handicraft association

Where to Buy & More Information

Biratori Ainu Bunka Joho Center

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