Festival of the Hungry Ghosts

January 12, 2009

The Hungry Ghost

What could have been like Japan and China’s version of Halloween is instead a fairly solemn or heart-warming occasion depending on who you are (falling around the middle of July for both nations). Everyone gets together with family and off they romp to the burial site of departed ones. 

Akin to Halloween, the Japanese, on Chugen (the 15th of July), offer gifts to their departed. In China, the hungry ghosts feast on the flesh of corpses, and sometimes they turn their culinary interests to feces. The hungry ghosts aren’t too proud about this, so maybe offering them something a little tastier, on Zhongyuan Jie (or Ghost Day), might help them kick the habit. Apparently it’s all Indian in origin, going back to a Buddhist tale about Mahamoudgalyayana saving his own mother from hell (the realm of hungry ghosts), getting her reborn as a human. 

Whew! Close one Mahamoudgalyayana’s mom!

The Indian people are hands down the best at squishing dozens of ‘A’ sounds into a man’s name. That’s my opinion.

Anyway, after I first raked this design a certain similarity struck me, between my pattern and certain Noh masks. If you’ve ever seen Spirited Away, remember the red demon drawing on the screen walls of the room where No Face has his freak out, that leads to the vomit montage? If you don’t, that probably means you need to watch it again, because that movie is flipping beautiful. Anyway, that specific design is what the above design brings to my mind.

Google image search Noh masks. There’s too many to pick from for me to want to link to just one.

In previous attempts at this design I usually  place the jowl stones a bit closer together so that there’s no horizontal bars showing between the lips. This gives the face a sterner look. But I kind of dug the sadness in this guy.

Let’s call him Cowbert. 

Cowbert the Hungry Ghost. He’s scarier and less disarming than Casper, and, who knows, if you’re a murderer, you might get along great, what with him chowing down on all your evidence.

Eat that, CSI.


One Response to “Festival of the Hungry Ghosts”

  1. Andrew Downie said

    heres how i imagine our conversation about this going

    andrew: you know, i had an east indian friend who told me i needed to have more “A” sounds in my name.

    joe: Really? That’s soo cool.

    andrew: Yeah, i imagined it to be like Andrew-shama-lama-mahatma-durka-durka-falafel

    joe: ( chuckling) Thats awesome, you know you had to throw Falafel in there.

    andrew: oh yeah dude, It just wouldnt be right withought Falafel or durka durka.
    Actually none of that’s true. It’s all a complete line of bullshit.

    joe: what? really? ( laughing even harder)

    andrew: Ya i don’t have any east indian friends. My Socialist support group would tottally shit on me if i did.
    ( at this point we both crack up into uncontrollable giggling for like five minutes in your moms kitchen. everytime we look at each other we giggle harder until jessica walks in and asks us what we’re laughing at. and we just cant explain it to her finally we manage to get ahold of and compose ourselves)
    andrew: Fuckin cowbert.

    joe: Ya eat it CSI


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