Ainu. Hokkaido Island, Japan.
Hardwood. L: 12.25" (31.2 cm). 19th to 20th century.
Historically, such objects were called "mustache lifters." However, that term undermines their importance. They were also a form of prayer stick, "ikupasuy" in Ainu. They are important ritual objects that are used to make offerings to Ainu gods as a way of praying. An Ainu man would dip the tip into a cup of alcohol and offer the symbolic drink to a God. This is an important core ritual of Ainu religion. Lifting the mustache is only an incidental practical aspect of the ritual. Early western observers misunderstood the importance of the objects and undermined their importance by calling them "moustache lifters".
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