One of Ainu moyo (patterns). Each pattern has a specific meaning.
The Ainu are a people with a cultural and racial background which is different from that of the ethnic Japanese. They have been populating Hokkaido, northern Tohoku, the Kurile Islands and Sakhalin, but today only a small population remains, mainly in Hokkaido.
According to one of several theories, the Ainu are descendants of Mongoloid migrants who entered the Japanese islands before the Jomon-era They were later displaced and assimilated, when the ethnic Japanese expanded their territory northward.
In the Meiji-era (1868-1912), the Ainu received the status of "former aboriginals", but suffered under official discrimination for some years. In 1997, a new law was passed which provides funds for the research and promotion of Ainu culture.