Crystal Morey: Baku, The Nightmare Eater
By Crystal Morey
Going to start the New Year off with a benevolent creature and a personal favorite, the Baku. Unlike the more devious Kappa, Baku come to the aid of those who suffer from nightmares or bad dreams, and supposedly they devour the evil spirit or creatures responsible for the disruptive visages…
Baku are said to have the head and tusks of an elephant and the body of a lion (more like foo dog bodies than the larger African lion). Japanese children are told if they have a bad dream to call out for a Baku upon waking and it will come and eat it for them, turning bad fortune into good fortune.
During the Edo era the kanji for Baku, or a simple image, were commonly found on pillows to ward off evil dreams.
These more antiquated Baku tend to have the head of an elephant or tapir, (many older images have a more rounded trunk) with a lion’s mane and paws, the body of a horse and the tail of a cow.
These Baku illustrations are pulled from our upcoming Japanese Mythical Creatures book coming out next month.