Are you one of the many people who suffers from lack of sleep?
In the US, the average teenager only gets 6.5 hours of sleep.
35% of adults report having difficulty sleeping. 8% of Americans suffer from the terrifying and strange occurrence known as sleep paralysis.
There are any number of home remedies, prescriptions and techniques out there to help us get more sleep.
But maybe there’s something out there beyond meditation, weighted blankets, and melatonin supplements.
Maybe we need a sleep guardian. In Chinese and Japanese mythology, there exists such a guardian known as Baku.
In China and Japan, the Baku is a common image in everyday life.
To this day many children own Baku shaped pillows, while adults will keep a figurine of the mythological beast by their bedside.
It is said that if a child wakes from a bad dream, they need only say “Baku, take my dream” 3 times.
If their wish is granted, the dream will never bother them again.
It is especially important to ask for a visit from Baku for New Year’s Eve, because starting the New Year with a nightmare is a pretty bad omen!
Some say Baku not only has the ability to take bad dreams away, but to transform good dreams into lucky ones.
Because of the auspicious and protective nature of the Baku, many people will get a Baku tattoo.
Not only do these tattoos look beautiful, they also serve a practical purpose.
A Baku tattoo is basically a good luck charm you can carry with you wherever you go.
So, What is Baku?
Baku made its debut in China, but has been known and written about in Japan since the 14th century.
Baku is a Chimera creature.
This is an actual scientific term referring to people or animals with mixed or multiple sets of DNA.
In mythology, it means that a creature is made up of multiple animals.
It is said that the powers that be create Baku with spare parts from other mythological beasts.
Pretty on trend in this day of environmentally friendly clothing and up-cycling.
Though originally Baku was not reported to have any dream related abilities, it was always known as a protector against evil and fatal diseases.
Eventually, it became known as a shy, hungry creature with an appetite for dreams.
Though Baku is happy to gobble up your nightmares- be warned!
The beast may be especially ravenous and end up eating your hopes.
So if you do choose to invite Baku into your life, try to be specific.
After all, it’s always advisable to set boundaries when dealing with centuries old magic.
As this profile of Baku and its abilities became clearer, so did the image of Baku.
Though every Baku tattoo is slightly different, there are some common themes in Baku artwork and tattoos.
Most commonly, Baku will be depicted as having the distinctive head of an elephant, tusks and trunk and all.
Some say Baku has a lion like body, and most agree it has a tiger’s claws.
Baku’s tail is that of an ox, and in some illustrations Baku bears a reptilian belly.
Typically if you see a piece of art that seems to be an elephant’s head on a jungle cat’s body- you’re looking at a Baku.
Baku is rarely depicted with a friendly expression in a piece of art or a Baku tattoo.
Though Baku is hungry for dreams, everyone offers up nightmares which do not taste as good.
Furthermore, Baku knows it is made of “spare parts” which can’t be a nice feeling.
Still, Baku feels a sense of loyalty to the reason for its creation, and will dutifully slurp up all those scary dreams.
Symbolism Of Baku Tattoo
Taken individually, each animal Baku is made up of has its own importance in folklore.
In Japan, animals are a very important part of a person’s spiritual life.
In both Hindu and Buddhist traditions, Elephants are sacred creatures and symbols of divinity on earth.
In Buddhism elephants represent a happy married life with children.
Stone lions have been posted outside of important buildings in India, China and Japan for centuries.
They are the ultimate symbol of protection and are thought to ward off evil spirits. Go to lion tattoos for more!
Tiger tattoos in Japan are also about protection, but specifically with regard to your health.
A tiger represents strength and protection from disease.
The Ox represents loyalty and determination.
Oxen have a “slow and steady wins the race” attitude in life, so they are a great symbol for patience.
Perhaps Baku gets its patience for foul tasting dreams from its Ox DNA!
Common Themes In Baku Tattoos
A Baku tattoo will typically be adorned with bright, opposing colors.
This not only compliments the Baku’s unique shape, it also contrasts the dark nature of the nightmares it devours.
Often times in Baku, as well as in Guardian Lion tattoos, the body will be covered in brightly colored circles, generally in a contrasting color to the base of the body.
Things To Consider Before Getting Your Baku Tattoo
See a tattoo artist with knowledge of Irezumi (art of Japanese tattoos), who can give you the Baku tattoo you deserve.
Before committing to Baku, perhaps check out your own lineage and see if there are any cool sleep guardians in those traditions.
Baku Tattoo Ideas
Baku is a bad ass looking mythological beast with an altruistic role to play in your life- which makes it a pretty neat choice for your next tattoo.
Still wondering if Baku is for you?
Check out our gallery for some of the best Baku tattoos out there today!
For more Yōkai tattoos go to: