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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Komainu- The Origin

What's up peeps. If you've been following my facebook page you should be aware by now that I'm participating in an online contest going on at Talenthouse. com for the new 47 Ronin movie starring Keanu Reeves. The challenge was to design a mythical beast inspired by the movie, and you can vote for my piece here:
You can vote more than once on both facebook AND twitter(of which I'm now a member..sigh..@ShawnAlleyneArt)

What I wanted to do here was go into the details of my design called Komainu.
The Lion-Dog spirit exists to protect the righteous and guard against evil, but it remains to be seen if this Celestial being has been corrupted.

As with everything I design I start off brainstorming and gathering reference. Good ole Google came in handy as I looked up "Japanese mythological beasts" to see what was out there. When I came across Komainu image popped up I knew I had my idea. The name comes from the ancient Japanese statues of the same name, often called lion-dogs in English. The Komainu are usually a pair of lion-like statue creatures either guarding the entrance of many Japanese shrines or kept inside the inner shrine itself. They can sometimes also be found at Buddhist Temples or nobility residences and even private homes.

Meant to ward off evil spirits, modern komainu statues are almost identical, but one has the mouth open, the other closed. This is a very common characteristic in religious statue pairs at both temples and shrines. This pattern is Buddhist in origin however and has a symbolic meaning. The open mouth is pronouncing the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, which is pronounced "a", while the closed one is uttering the last letter, which
is pronounced "um", to represent the beginning and the end of all things. Together they form the sound "Aum" a syllable sacred in several religions.There are however exceptions to the rule in which both komainu have their mouth either open or closed.

 There's a variation of the statue that resembles a fox.
I love the idea of the Komainu so much I plan on incorporating the theme into a modern version into the Aizan universe.  Next time I'll take a look at the details of the design a little closer.

Catch you then.


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