The magic mortar, Kikugorō, and the Cowgre

Over at META no TAME, I linked to the Ningyo-do bunko database of illustrations by KAWASAKI Kyosen (1877-1942) of toys, souvenirs, charms, amulets, etc. Here are a few more entries that I wanted to share.

First, dig this: a 呪禁 (jukin) mortar from Ōsaka.

Jukin is, as far as I can tell, a variant pronunciation of jugon, an old Taoism-based magical concept in which evil influences were forbidden (禁) via spells (呪) from afflicting the protected party or parties. I suppose the jukin mortar allows you to protect yourself from the evil eye and grind sesame at the same time. Efficient!

Next, an endearing fellow billed as "Kikugorō / One-legged umbrella":

I'm not sure whether Kikugorō is his name, brand name, maker's name or what, but he looks like a gritty revisioning of the karakasa umbrella monster, perhaps by URASAWA Naoki.

His head and torsumbrella are papier-mâché, but his limbs are ceramic -- for fighting! And also so that he doesn't blow around too much in the winds.

And finally, the dreaded ushi-oni ("cowgre") of Uwajima:

The ushi-oni is a monster with a cow's body, an oni's head, and a sword for a tail. No doubt it is quite terrifying in non-pantomime horse form. In Uwajima they don these things and charge around the streets for the Ushi-oni Festival, which also features non-fatal shoving matches between real cows.

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Daniel Goffin:

Interesting. Basically I just want to say thanks for your translation and this awesome blog... It's quite insightful for me. I've just started to dig into the Japanese folklore and I find it very inspiring. There are a lot of very unique monsters. I tried to illustrate an ushi-oni myself as well and I had a hard time with it (http://www.idleware.com/illustration/beasts-volume-2-submission-ushi-oni).


I see you used the more glamorous "spider's body, cow's head" version -- very wise decision. I like that illustration a lot, too, thanks for sharing.

Did you see the recent post at Pink Tentacle about Edo-period monster art?

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