The hakutaku (白澤 or 白沢), also known as bai ze, is a mythical beast, sometimes described as a deity, which is said to advise noble monarchs and ward off monsters and epidemics. In Japan it's usually portrayed as a bovine creature with an old man's head with three eyes, with more eyes and sometimes a number of horns on its body. Chinese depictions sometimes present it as a feline or reptilian, qilin-like creature instead
The hakutaku has its origin in one of the myths about Huang Di (黄帝 or こうてい; read as "Koutei" in Japanese), the mythical first emperor of China. The creature could talk and explained that he only visited the greatest and most auspicious of rulers. The hakutaku went on to explain to the emperor that there were 11,520 youkai in the world; it also taught the emperor how to escape and exorcise the bad ones and deal with the good ones. The emperor set all that knowledge down in an encyclopedia of youkai, known as the Bai Ze Tu (白泽图); tradition considers this work to be lost. The myth was first depicted in a Tang era mural from the Mogao caves.
In Japan, the hakutaku was seen first and foremost as a good luck charm warding off diseases. In the Edo period, many attributes of the hakutaku were absorbed by the baku. As a result Lafcadio Hearn incorrectly assumed the creatures are one and the same.
Characters under this Bestiary
- Keine Kamishirasawa (were-hakutaku)
- Wikipedia Entry for Hakutaku