Jumat, 19 Juni 2009

百目 (Hyakume)

A guardian of shrines who only comes out at night because the sun is too bright for him. Like the otoroshi he guards shrines, particularly from thieves. When he met a thief, one of his eyes would leave his body and endlessly pursue the thief until it made contact. Thereafter the thief always had the eye as a mark that he was a thief. It was a common belief in old Japan that thieves sometimes had a "bird's eye", the slang term for a coin, on their body (old coins, like the current 5 and 50 yen piece having a hole in the center). Unlike modern Japan's Yakuza, in the past tattooing was looked down upon. It may have been that thieves, when caught suffered the penalty of a tattoo resembling such a mark. (Aristocrats, when exiled, also received a tattoo of a circle around their wrist.) The hyakume is sometimes considered to be either vampiric, leaching life from those it "catches", or heavenly--not requiring sustenance at all, due its lack of a mouth

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