I’m terrible at updating, I know. It’s just so easy for RL to get in the way and procrastinating and writing practically go hand-in-hand…
This time it’s about the mouryou, mainly because I like the way the Chinese characters look: 魍魎.
So pretty yet so hard to write.
Like many youkai, this is one that started in China and made it’s way to Japan. Based on books from the Han Dynasty, the mouryou looks like a three-year old toddler. Its skin is a reddish-black, it has long ears and red eyes, as well as bright, red hair. Interestingly, the hair is cut in a bowl-shape, much like a kappa. it’s basically a small red thing. Kinda like Oompa-Loompas without the singing.
The mouryou eats the flesh of dead human bodies, especially brains of recently deceased people. Supposedly, they would dig up bodies in graveyards to feast on.
Of course, they do have weaknesses. They’re afraid of tigers (don’t ask me why), and a related creature will die if stabbed by an evergreen branch in the neck, so presumably that works with the mouryou too. If you put the drawing of a tiger or an evergreen branch next to a grave, it will keep the mouryou away.
Another way is to have an exorcist wear a bear’s skin, put on a mask with four eyes and during the funeral, use a spear to hit the four corners of the grave. This will ensure the mouryou and other creatures won’t disturb the grave.
I get the feeling the mouryou was once blamed for what gravediggers did.
Source: 日本神妖博物誌 作者： 多田克己 譯者：歐凱寧