Adventures in Demon Hunting 10, or An Account of Creatures Strange and Wondrous: Qilin

More strange and mystical creatures encountered by intrepid Demon Hunters Teresa and Jolaine on what became known to history as The Great Demon Hunting Expedition of 2009: Qilin

Thinking to themselves, “Since the Japanese adopted the Qilin from China, turning it into their Kirin that should we really bother hunting the elusive Qilin?,” our intrepid explorers decided there was plenty of time before dinner so they might as well.

They didn’t have to wait long before an amazing sight met their eyes: a creature with noble bearing and a delicate tread, the Qilin seemed that a creature incapable of harming any living thing. The yellow beast had a deer’s boy, a wolf’s neck, a cow’s tail, and the feet of a deer, as well as a single horn upon its head. However, the depiction of the Qilin has changed from at various points in history to include flame decorations at its head, fish scales, and other features. Different regions of China portray it differently, as well.

The female of the species was called “qi” and the male “lin,” it is rumored to only appear when an enlightened ruler is on the throne. As it passed, it didn’t trample a single plant, but took care to step only where the foliage was dead, or on rocks. It didn’t even harm an insect as it passed, and we could easily understand why the Qilin is the third highest animal in the rank in the Chinese hierarchy.

The Qilin is a fertility symbol, said to bring lots of sons to a family. It punishes the wicked, and brings with it prosperity.

Sources

Adventures in Demon Hunting 9, or An Account of Creatures Strange and Wondrous: Kirin

More strange and mystical creatures encountered by intrepid Demon Hunters Teresa and Jolaine on what became known to history as The Great Demon Hunting Expedition of 2009: Kirin

Since we were in Japan in the last blog post, we might as well stay there…

Honestly, can you get cooler than Japanese unicorns? No, no you can’t.

Unless, of course, that Japanese unicorn happens to also have a beer named after it.

The Kirin is the most powerful creature in the Japanese hierarchy of mythological animals. As you can tell from the picture, Kirin resemble dragons shaped like horses, with the tail of a lion (So it’s not really that much like a unicorn). They are symbols of good fortune, rewarding good people and punishing evil with their single horn.

Sources

Adventures in Demon Hunting 4, or An Account of Creatures Strange and Wondrous: Sea Bishops and Sea Monks

More strange and mystical creatures encountered by intrepid Demon Hunters Teresa and Jolaine on what became known to history as The Great Demon Hunting Expedition of 2009.

Sea Bishops and Sea Monks

The sea is a strange place, and it was probably even stranger to people without our level of science.

So when people saw something they’d never encountered before, I think we can probably forgive them for being mystified. Here are a couple of drawings from the Sixteenth century, reproduced by Robert Chambers in his “The Book of Days” in 1883.

The Sea Bishop

The Sea Bishop

The Sea Monk

The Sea Monk

Now how about this:

The Sea Bishop

The Sea Bishop

Angel Shark

Angel Shark

The Sea Monk

The Sea Monk

Giant Squid

Giant Squid

Adventures in Demon Hunting 1, or An Account of Creatures Strange and Wondrous: Blurry, grainy photographs

Several weeks ago, I, and my intrepid friend Jolaine, realized it was high time for this demonic researcher to get out from behind the computer and do some actual, true-to-life demon hunting.

We considered many possibilities. Should we plunge into the dark unknown of the Amazonian rainforest in search of the wild and bizarre? Should we risk our very lives by facing the dark predators of Scotland (not to mention the bagpipes)? Should we delve into historical documents to uncover the truth behind a four hundred year old mystery?

As this was the first expedition (and we wanted to be home in time to pick up some sushi and watch The Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency), it was decided that we should ease into the initiative by going local. The expedition committee settled on a location only one province away: the Mythic Beasts exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

We intrepid explorers donned our camo gear and pith helmets and headed out into an unknown world of strange, almost unbelievable creatures. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will uncloak these mysterious and exotic monsters for you, complete with outlandish claims and grainy photographs.

Grainy photograph #1: Mishipashoo/Mishepishu

The explorer Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec City, describes a Native ceremony in his journal of an 1613 journey up the Ottawa River:

“After carrying their canoes to the foot of the fall, they assemble in one spot, where one of them takes up a collection in a wooden plate, into which each one puts a bit of tobacco. The collection having been made, the plate is placed in the midst of the troupe, and all dance about it, singing in their style. Then one of the captains makes a harangue, setting forth that for a long time they had been accustomed to make this offering, by which means they are insured protection against their enemies, that otherwise misfortune would befall them, as they are convinced by the evil spirit…”


What is this evil spirit
, our intrepid explorers had to ask themselves.

So we kept our eyes open, and the answer was soon revealed to us.

Natives who lived in the Ottawa River area believed a monstrous creature lived in the nearby lakes. Without an offering of tobacco to ease its wrath, it would lash its huge serpent-like tail at any stray canoe, tipping its owner and its contents into the water.

This might sound not such a big deal to you or me, or many people who do casual canoeing these days, but the Natives carried their lives in canoes on their voyages. The loss of weapons, hunting instruments, supplies, or warm clothing, might actually mean death.

The creature’s name was Mishipashoo/Mishepishu, or “great water lynx.” It had the unlikely head of a large cat, a serpent’s tail, razor spikes on its back, and horns on its head.

Gentle readers, at great risk to OUR VERY LIVES, your intrepid explorers bring you an unfocused, grainy photograph of the Mishipashoo. Are you sitting down?

The Dread MISHEPISHU

The Dread MISHEPISHU

On Saturday

On Saturday, meet a new vampire to know and love, the Nachzehrer (Even the name sounds scary!).

Sources

Special, special, special edition: Birth of a mythical creature

Warning: This blog post includes scenes of an adult nature and foul language… In Mandarin.

It’s rare to be able to witness the origins of a mythical creature, so I just had to share this with you. This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder how myths start in the first place… Are we watching one being created right here, today?

There’s a long tradition of word-plays in Chinese literature and language, and it’s spawned a couple of mythical creatures over the centuries. In my research for the Qilin, which I’ll talk about later, I found out that the Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese–it wasn’t specific) characters for “reed pipe,” “lotus,” and “osmanthus blossom” are the same characters in the phrase “May there be the birth of precious sons one after the other.” So, families that wanted sons hang up pictures that include a reed pipe, lotus and osmanthus blossom.

As we speak, right now, today, there are a couple Chinese songs (Wired.com says they’re in Mandarin.) about the “Grass-Mud Horses,” (Entirely mythical, they look like Alpacas) that live in the “MaLe Desert” and have to fight against the “River Crabs” to protect their “Grassland.”

But in Mandarin, each one of these words sounds soooo close to other words. The only two I will (but I could, I really could) say on this blog are “River Crabs,” which is “Harmonization,” a euphemism for censorship, and “Grassland,” which means “Free Speech.” The other two phrases are… well, let’s just say that they wouldn’t be out of place in Pulp Fiction. “Horse” sounds like “Mother.” “Grass-Mud” sounds like “<insert foul verb here> your”. It’s actually a protest song about censorship, but the clever double-meaning makes it hard to censor.

The grass-mud horse has even become a plushie you can buy for your kid:
Grass mud horse plushies

Here’s a video without the translation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2Fl3q5gZNc

Okay, here’s a link to a YouTube song with translation. Please understand that you might be offended: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKx1aenJK08

I am thankful every day that I live in a country where I have lots of grassland.

In two hundred, five hundred years, will the Grass-Mud Horse be featured on someone else’s ‘blog’ as a magical creature of unknown origins? Hard to say. And I’ll never know. Unless my plans come together and I am preserved as an animated head floating in ether.

Happy one month anniversary, DoTW!

Mid-week Adventures in Demon Hunting 1: Blurry, grainy photgraphs

Several weeks ago, I, and my intrepid friend Jolaine, realized it was high time for this demonic researcher to get out from behind the computer and do some actual, true-to-life demon hunting.

We considered many possibilities. Should we plunge into the dark unknown of the Amazonian rainforest in search of the wild and bizarre? Should we risk our very lives by facing the dark predators of Scotland (not to mention the bagpipes)? Should we delve into historical documents to uncover the truth behind a four hundred year old mystery?

As this was the first expedition (and we wanted to be home in time to pick up some sushi and watch The Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency), it was decided that we should ease into the initiative by going local. The expedition committee settled on a location only one province away: the Mythic Beasts exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. http://www.civilization.ca/cmc/exhibitions/cmc/mythicbeasts/mythicbeasts01e.shtml

We intrepid explorers donned our camo gear and pith helmets and headed out into an unknown world of strange, almost unbelievable creatures. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will uncloak these mysterious and exotic monsters for you, complete with outlandish claims and grainy photographs.

Grainy photograph #1: Mishipashoo/Mishepishu

The explorer Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec City, describes a Native ceremony in his journal of an 1613 journey up the Ottawa River:

“After carrying their canoes to the foot of the fall, they assemble in one spot, where one of them takes up a collection in a wooden plate, into which each one puts a bit of tobacco. The collection having been made, the plate is placed in the midst of the troupe, and all dance about it, singing in their style. Then one of the captains makes a harangue, setting forth that for a long time they had been accustomed to make this offering, by which means they are insured protection against their enemies, that otherwise misfortune would befall them, as they are convinced by the evil spirit…”

What is this evil spirit, our intrepid explorers had to ask themselves.

Keeping our eyes open, the answer was soon revealed.

Natives who lived in the Ottawa River area believed a monstrous creature lived in the nearby lakes. Without an offering of tobacco to ease its wrath, it would lash its huge serpent-like tail at any stray canoe, tipping its owner and its contents into the water.

This might sound not such a big deal to you or me, or many people who do casual canoeing these days, but the Natives carried their lives in canoes on their voyages. The loss of weapons, hunting instruments, supplies, or warm clothing, might actually mean death.

The creature’s name was Mishipashoo/ Mishepishu, or “great water lynx.” It had the unlikely head of a large cat, a serpent’s tail, razor spikes on its back, and horns on its head.

Gentle readers, at great risk to OUR VERY LIVES, your intrepid explorers bring you an unfocused, grainy photograph of the Mishipashoo. Are you sitting down?

Norval Morriseau, "Mishepishu"

Samuel de Champlain, Charles Pomeroy Otis, Edmund Farwell Slafter, Voyages of Samuel de Champlain
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_de_Champlain
http://ottawariverkeeper.ca/river/ottawa_river_creatures_real_or_imagined_the_story_of_mishipashoo