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.

Simplicity & Books

Keeping up with book trends and sales? Don’t worry. We are too. There will always be highs and lows, one extreme to another. This isn’t really a trend but just a little something we noticed in the office. Everything is so simple.

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Sure, writing the book isn’t simple…getting the book to be noticed by an editor/publisher isn’t simple…the process of production isn’t simple…but when the final product of the book is in the author’s hands or a trusty reader’s yearning finger tips…do they just look at the cover and think, it’s so simple? We’re referring to the cover art itself. And because we came across a list of books in which the title said, “Most Beautiful…”, we thought it was about time we sit down and chat about cover art. Again.

Calling something beautiful is subjective to the writer of the article. Some of the titles on this list have been hyped up and plastered all over the internet, they were bound to become bestsellers. But there was one common thing among the covers we needed to stress. They’re so simple. There’s nothing wrong with simplicity but the simplicity of these books has helped bump up sales revenue. Many fiction titles are beginning to look…uniform. Once again…there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s getting money in someone’s pocket, regardless.

We’re not here to dictate what you should do with your book. But if you find yourself in need of change and you could envision a bit of abstract art or an object as the cover of your book, then maybe it’s time you send out a few emails to the cover designers out in the world. You may appeal to a new crowd looking for the simple covers that get them wondering what the heck the cover is trying to tell them.

Thank goodness we live in a digital age where all we have to do is delete and upload a new image.

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.

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.

Be Rewarded

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Pixiu China

“Winged lion that words off spirits and attracts wealth”

Basic Facts:

  • The Pixiu is a protector of those who practice Feng Shui.
  • A creature well associated with wealth; it is also associated with Earth and Sea elements.
  • There are male and female variations of the Pixiu. They’re referred to as Bìxié (male) and Tiān lù (female). The Bìxié is known to be in charge of the wealth, while the Tiān lù shoos off bad spirits.
  • In terms of the wealth they bring in, they are picky. The prefer gold, silver, and jewelry.
  • As years have gone by, the Pixiu has maintained their love for wealth. Statues are often used in the practice of Feng Shui and the philosophy is: wealth will come. They’re also used in Jade pendants in modern jewelry.

Overlapping Myths and Traditions

This is the first of our mythological creatures from East Asia and can we just say: we are so excited to share these!

For this week, we’re looking at the traditional Chinese dragon, also known as the East Asian Dragon. This creature is widely known within and beyond Asian history, used as symbols of great strength and honor. But let’s jump right in and see what we could possibly teach you!


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Chinese DragonChina

“Long, serpentine creature with elemental powers.”

Basic Facts:

  • Don’t be fooled! The serpent-like animal is the more commonly known dragons. They’re also described as turtles and fish.
  • The dragon usually has powers to control water, rainfall, typhoons, and floods (do you see the common trait of strength behind this all?)
  • Scholar Wang Fu of the Han dynasty recorded myths about long dragons having distinct features. It’s an interesting Google search!
  • Depictions of the East Asian dragon sometimes feature a flaming pearl. It’s symbolic of spiritual energy, wisdom, prosperity, power, immortality, thunder, or the moon.
  • Wings? Nope! East Asian dragons fly with the help of their mystical powers, nothing physical helps them soar through the sky.

Creature From The Black Lagoon…?

We’ve finally made it to the end of European legends and mythological creatures. Next week we’ll be venturing over to East Asia to see what sort of creatures and legends we can inspire you to incorporate into your writing!

Onto this week, though! Could we have found what inspired the Creature from the Black Lagoon?


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Vodník Czech Republic

Basic Facts:

  • The appearance of the Vodník varies…from a man with webbed hands and gills to a humanoid frog. The description of this creature depends on the location of the myth. His story gets around!
  • On the side of good or evil? The Vodník can be aligned with either. But the bad ones are the recorded ones. They try to drown people who are in their territory!
  • To pass the time, this creature likes to play cards, smoke pipes, or just hang out near the water and overlook their home.
  • Sometimes, fisherman give the spirit tobacco as a trade for fish.
  • They don’t have a mentioned home…but sea water is deadly for them! Just speculating, not confirmed.