Created by putting together the spare pieces left scattered around after the gods finished with the creation of all animals, this mythological creature can be summoned to prevent or end nightmares.
Originally from Chinese folklore, Baku’s story spread out to 14th century Japan, but it was first recorded in the 17th century illustrated Japanese book, The Sankai Ibutsu, or Mythical Creatures of the Mountains and Seas
“In the mountains of the south, there lives a beast.
It has an elephant’s trunk, the eyes of a rhinoceros, an ox’s tail, and a tiger’s paws.
Its body is yellow and black and is called the Mò 貘 [in China].
By sleeping on its pelt one can ward off pestilence.
A man should make a sketch of the Mò in order to be protected from evil.
It eats copper and iron but nothing else.”
As almost all Chinese mythological creatures are made up of different parts from real animals, Baku is no exception. It has the body of a bear, the nose of an elephant, the feet of a tiger, an oxen tail, and the eyes of a rhino. It has a scary appearance, but, according to the legend, it protects you from bad dreams. All you have to do is to summon it by saying three times: “Baku-san, come eat my dream.” It is said that if you can make Baku eat your nightmare, it has the power to turn it into good fortune.
However, you must be careful with this creature because, if the nightmare isn’t satisfying enough, it will also devour your hope and dreams, leaving you with nothing to live for.
Keeping a Baku talisman near your bed can offer you protection against bad dreams. It is similar to the Native American dreamcatcher, a symbol associated with “The Spider Woman”, a protector of people. The Lakota culture also has its own spider-looking creature, the “Iktomi, a trickster god who will catch in its web of life” good and bad ideas, and filter them to help people achieve their dreams and desires.