Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Tengu 天狗

Karasu Tengu (crow Tengu) were the first kind of Tengu imported to Japan, probably from the Garuda of Vishnu. In Japan they were considered to be quite dangerous soldier-type monsters, who flew in legions and caused trouble with lightning and eating people who strayed too far outside the village.
With the advent of Buddhism and the conversion of many native monsters to the Way (I find this very interesting), Tengu became the long-nosed variety that is more common today. They are still slightly dangerous, but now they are considered extremely wise, serious, and keepers of the secrets of all high martial arts. If a human meets a Tengu, the Tengu will judge whether that person is worthy to receive the secrets of martial arts--if not, the human gets eaten (or, in some variations, loses their mind, and returns to their village incurably insane).

From an illustrative perspective I think I prefer the Karasu Tengu, also to depict this variation of the creature, I will be keeping more to the more traditional Shinto belief.  

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