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[Tidbits] Oni... Converted and Unconverted


How does one call an Oni. I imagine it would be: Yo Oni! C’mere. So
Oni ambles over… and now what does one do with him? What … in
fact… one might well ask… is an Oni? An Oni is…

Oni… Japanese devils. They are depicted in many sizes and colors.
There are tiny little Oni and there are enormous Ogre Oni–bigger
even than Shrek–who serve as Temple Guardians. They are fierce and
evil looking. They have two horns. They have pointed ears. They have
protruding fangs. They have glaring, hateful, malignant eyes. They
have three fingers on each hand and three toes on each foot and each
appendage is well-clawed. They have muscular human-like bodies and
they are always naked… except for a tiger-skin loincloth which
surely covers an unthinkable organ too grotesque for the human eye
to ponder. Of course… I could be wrong on this last issue… but
who’s going to go look? Unlike our western devils however… Oni do
not have tails. Quaint… eh wot?

Though there are many Oni… three are well known. There is the Oni
of thunder and lightning. There is the Oni of winds and storms. And
there is the Oni of seas and tides. None of these were pleasant
chaps. But here’s the kick of it all. Spiritual redemption was
available to all Oni. I tend to think of the ceremony a bit the same
way I think of a Bris. The road to conversion involved the removal
of a body part. The path to Buddhism and redemption entailed the
sawing off of Oni’s horns. You want to convert… something’s got to
go. In any case… once de-horned… Oni were allowed to enter the
monkhood. Oh the joy of it all. The pure ecstasy. Off with the horns
… on with the monkery.

But there’s a problem. I have an image of two Oni. Image on the left
is ceramic. Image on the right is bronze and gold. Look closely. The
guy on the left is miserable. He’s been converted. He’s unhappy. He
may well be able to now become a monk… but he’s lost his horns in
the process. Poor li’l tyke. So… in any case… the moral of this
story… don’t try to make an Oni–or anyone else for that matter–
into something they are not… because if you do… they will put on
an ugly face… and really look like an Oni.

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits…may I
direct you to my home page at where you will
scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that says
Current Tidbits… and then click on it in order to view a pair of
Japanese Oni which were often worn as good luck charms.

And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark