Thursday, May 20, 2021

Something About Gashadokuro (がしゃどくろ)

Bad to the bone.

One more for now. Gashadokuro (がしゃどくろ, "starving skeleton") are yōkai taking the form of giant skeletons, said to be fifteen times larger than an average person. Matthew Meyer (Yokai.com) explains their history: 
The earliest record of a gashadokuro goes back over 1000 years to a bloody rebellion against the central government by a samurai named Taira no Masakado. His daughter Takiyasha hime was a famous sorceress. When Masako was eventually killed for his revolt, his daughter continued his cause. Using her black magic, she summoned a great skeleton from the bodies of dead soldiers to attack the city of Kyōto. Her monster is depicted in a famous print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi.
There's a rather famous woodblock triptych by Japanese artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798–1861) entitled Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre (c.1844), showing a mythical episode in which the emperor's official, Mitsukuni, comes to search for surviving conspirators.

Skeletons seem the sort of thing Lewis or Johnny might run into. I almost wish Lewis had run into a large one after the kuchisake-onna, just to give it some variety. I also wonder how familiar Edward Gorey was with Japanese woodblock prints. The skeleton also reminds me of the stop-motion “living skeleton” created by Ray Harryhausen and featured in both films The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad as well as Jason and the Argonauts.

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