I really love mythological creatures - particularly those obscure ones that seem to be disappearing from our collective imaginations. Over the next few weeks in the run up to "Magical Gains" release, I'm going to post about random mythological creatures that you may find in some of my writings. My own personal crusade to stop them falling into oblivion!
Today, I've chosen the Baku - which features in my second novel, "Magical Creations" (working title; not yet submitted). Now, the Baku is obscure in the western culture, but seems to still be thriving in it's native one.
The Baku is of Chinese and Japanese origin and is other wise known as a "Dream Eater" spirit (獏 or 貘).
Description; It's difficult to get one consistent description of a Baku. Descriptions range from; an elephantine head with the body of a lion (most common description) or a lion's head, horses body, cow's tail and legs and feet of a tiger. Sometimes they are merely described as a tapir with stripes, or just a pig like animal. Not all that much is said about a Baku's physical mode of movement. They are sometimes depicted as bi-ped, but most commonly as a quadraped.
The Baku in "Magical Creations, has the elephantine head, with a lion like body, with very dark tiger-like stripes. She is also a bi-ped. I decided to use this simply because of her role in the novel. Having her move as a quadraped didn't fit with her situation. Allowing her to be bipedal also makes her easier to relate to - although her gait is very ungainly and awkward. In fact, one of the characters comments that she looks like a cruel and unusual science experiment. Which let's face it - she does!
Behaviour; Generally speaking, the Baku is a benevolent creature - who aids people suffering from bad dreams. The Baku is said to come and eat peoples bad dreams, leaving the sleeper in a peaceful slumber. To this end, in Japan, some parents still place images of a Baku in children's rooms to ward off bad dreams and reassure children.
As with all mythological creatures, there is usually a flip side, in the case of the Baku, they are occasionally described as making themselves a nuisance. They can do this by waking people, or taking away beneficial dreams - depriving the sleeper of both good dreams and restful slumber.
When I use mythological creatures, I tend to use those characteristics that aid my story, and help the mythological being mesh better in the "world". My Baku, is a Counsellor, or therapist. Being a benevolent, caring sort of creature, I thought this would be a likely choice of career. The Baku can only communicate through thoughts. This enables her to read other peoples minds and help them through difficult problems. She also has the ability to connect people via the astral plain, and promote good dreams.
Anyway, here's to the Baku, guarding our dreams and giving peaceful sleep!