The Perfect Elephant

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AiravataIndia

“A pristine, winged elephant that creates rain, steed to the God, Indra.”

Basic Facts:

  • Other names for Airavata are: abrha-matanga (“elephant of the clouds”), naga-malla (“the fighting elephant”), or Arkasodra (“brother of the sun”). The name, Airavata, loosely translates to “belonging to Iravati.”
  • This isn’t a normal elephant…it has ten tusks and five trunks. To top it off it’s white and spotless!
  • Last week, we talked about the churning of the ocean of milk, which created several treasures (or mythological creatures) alongside uchchaihshravas – one being Airavata. This is according to one legend – not the final answer!
  • The lovely Airavata is actually incorporated into a couple of flags like Laos and Thailand.
  • The Airavata is one of eight deities to look over the eight points of a compass. That’s quite the job!

 

Antagonizing Antagonists

Purpose. Almost every antagonist has a purpose.

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Are they trying the “take over the world” tactic? What got them to this point? Evil isn’t born from the black; it’s molded and crafted by life’s doing. If you’re writing a classic villain – give them the unique back story to give them epic purpose.

If your story is that of the everyday, then where is the bad guy? Are they standing right next to the main character? Are they in the cubicle next door? Are they after the same goal as the protagonist? The opposition is what gives the antagonist in this scenario purpose.

Here’s another one: your character is going against the government, or any large institution, “1984”-style. Why did this entity grow to be the way it is Why is the protagonist going against it? There shouldn’t be a “pure evil” motive because that means there’s someone behind the whole thing. It starts to blend in with other potential antagonist. Don’t confuse yourself! But there’s always…you guessed it…purpose behind the institution.

A new favorite and trend we see in writing is the internal antagonist. This mostly revolves around characteristics of the character and being held back by these traits. For the first time throughout this piece, purpose is stripped from the “antagonist” and comes to fruition out of some event or comes to light. These become more realistic because it may be an accurate portrayal of life itself.

So…take to the books and get writing your perfect, purposeful antagonist. Alright, we’re done using the ‘p’ word.

Seven Heads

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Uchchaihshravas India

“Seven-headed flying horse that became king of horses.”

Basic Facts:

  • The uchchaihshravas is the steed of the God King. But also the horse of the King of Demons.
  • The horse is described to be snow white, probably attributed to the creation of the horse. It came to life during the churning of the milk ocean, also called Samudra manthan.
  • Wonder what the name of the horse means? Long ears or neighing aloud. This is a pretty straight forward description of what horses embody.
  • Before becoming the King of horses, the uchchaihshravas was deemed the best of horses and a prototype by his master, Indra.
  • When born, there were other treasures who came from the churning of the milk ocean. The king of horses was not lonely!

Sea Spirit & Alcohol

Welcome back to The Write Nook and HRM’s place to splurge on random information!

With a new year comes new formats and new topics. As always, we’re excited to share our list of recent publications (in the audio department) and talk about whatever aspiring writers and published authors are dying to know. Or we’re ready to sit down with a cup of coffee and talk writing. Whatever the case may be, we’re excited to share this new year with you!

Even though we’ll be diving into new things, don’t think we’re going to abandon our weekly mythology lesson. This week is our last week in Japan (metaphorically…not physically!) So, keep reading if you’re interested in spirits who like to drink!


 

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Shōjō | Japan

“Red-faced sea spirit with a fondness for alcohol.”

Basic Facts:

  • Shōjō is also used to refer to someone who likes alcohol.
  • There is a Noh mask for the shōjō. Noh is a well-known form of classical Japanese musical drama. The performers use masks, costumes, and props to tell the story at hand through dance.
  • A shōjō is also a term for an orangutan!
  • There are legends surrounding the shōjō drinking the beer brewed in breweries. Watch your beer, friends!
  • They’re described to look like apes (hairy, too!) And with bright red hair and blushing faces. They wear clothes made from seaweed – and no surprise, you’ll usually find them by coasts, islands, and shallow waters.

A Blob

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Nuppeppō Japan

“Passive, genderless blob one can eat to gain eternal youth.”

Basic Facts:

  • This yōkai has a pungent body odor because it’s supposedly made up of corpses. I knew there was a catch…Makes it that much harder to eat.
  • While other spirits have some form of origin tale…the nuppeppō doesn’t. Even though it’s been around since the 18th century.
  • You’ll most likely find this blob in deserted streets, abandoned temples, and…you guessed it…graveyards.
  • They are entirely harmless!
  • Although the blob is just that…a blob…the nuppeppō has folds all over it. Which makes it look like it has eyes, a nose, a mouth, arms and legs.

All Umbrellas Mean Bad Luck

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Kasa-obake | Japan

“Animated umbrellas that jump around on one leg.”

Basic Facts:

  • Here we have another yōkai (like the ittan-momen and bake-kujira.) This can sometimes be thrown under the same name as the ittan-momen: a tsukumogami, but not all consider it to be that.
  • Other names include: karakasa-obake, kase-bake, and karakasa kozō.
  • If you couldn’t tell by the art above, the kasa-obake have a very distinct appearance. It’s usually an umbrella with one eye, hopping around on one leg. In some rare cases, they’ll have two legs but it’s highly unlikely to find. Every once in awhile, it’ll have two arms and sometimes be described to have a long tongue.
  • Initially, the kasa-obake was simply a humanoid spirit with an umbrella on its head…but as time went on the human became an umbrella. This is why people believe it to be a tsukumogami.
  • This is the most well-known yōkai (that is an object) and has been incorprated into card games, haunted houses, anime (Japanese animated shows), manga (Japanese comic books/graphic novels), and movies.

Swimming With Revenge

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Bake – KujiraJapan

“Ghost whale that is accompanied by bizarre birds and unknown fish.”

Basic Facts:

  • Another name for the bakekujira is honekujira, which translates to “bone whale.” They pretty much are undead whales who are followed by weird looking birds and funky fish.
  • They can be found in the sea of Japan. The people will see the ghost whale on rainy nights, off the coast…of whaling villages. See where we’re going here?
  • What powers can this haunting whale possibly have? Legend has it, when you see the whale, you’re cursed. Usually what happens is, someone will become cursed, return to their village and the village will suffer at the hand of the curse. Plague, famine, fires…any disaster you can imagine. Prepare.
  • Do you remember the yōkai from our last post? The bakekujira is one, too.
  • There are some explanations as to why the legend came in to existence about this whale. Someone has said it could have been an enemy village, creating a fake whale to haunt the fisherman out at sea. There is another idea about a whale carcass carrying disease to a village and not a ghost whale.

Real Endings Need Love Too!

real boy.gifWe’re not saying there are fake endings floating around in the writing world but what we are trying to say is realism is a wonderful way to end a book. Seriously! To remind your reader their head shouldn’t be in the clouds will have them feeling a lot.

Take a moment to think about a not-so-happy ending you read and stuck with you. There’s a reason why you remember it…it’s memorable due to being different than all the rest. We also want to mention: these endings don’t have to be sad, necessarily. Just real.

Sometimes people like the chaos and fire-burning-everywhere ending to a book they’re invested in. Or the cookie-cutter romantic, hero saves everyone at the end of the day. It’s about preference.

Or shock value.

You choose.

The Least Expected Myth

This week’s mythological monster is a day late but well worth it! This week’s highlight was one for the books and a new one even I hadn’t heard of.

Keep reading if you want to hear about a bolt of cotton that will smother you to death if given the chance.


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Ittan-momenJapan

“Sentient roll of cotton that flies through the night and suffocates people.”

Basic Facts:

  • In Japanese mythology, the ittan-momen is a Yōkai, more specifically a Tsukumogami. A yōkai is a supernatural spirit in folklore while a tsukumogami is a tool that has been possessed by a supernatural spirit. Haunted items…spooooooky.
  • These spirits are more likely to be found in Kagoshima.
  • The type off cotton possessed is also what can be used to make clothes. Check your labels!
  • “Ittan-momen” literally translates to “one bolt of cotton” or “one tan of cotton.” It gives the idea of what the measurements are of the item (28.8 cm by 10 m).
  • Believe it or not…the ittan-momen has been adapted plenty in Japanese modern culture. Shows (anime, primarily) and monuments have been made in appreciation.

Foxy Lady

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Gumiho Korea

“Nine-tailed fox that freely transforms into a beguiling woman.”

Basic Facts:

  • How does the fox become the woman? It lives a thousand years.
  • The goal of the gumiho (also called Kumiho in Korea) is to seduce boys and lure them off to eat their organs. They focus on primary organs, such as the liver and heart.
  • Since the legend of the gumiho originated in China and also has a sister legend in Japan, the gumiho is differentiated by the item it carries. The gumiho keeps a marble of knowledge but it’s also used to help drain human energy. If a human steals the marble…they gain knowledge!
  • Even though they can turn into a woman, they maintain fox-like features.
  • Hoping for some good news? If the gumiho doesn’t kill or eat any humans…they’ll become human. Don’t forget…they’re spirits, not actual animals.