Friday, January 29, 2016

Tsukumogami: Objects with Souls

The Wandering Glove

According to Japanese folklore, objects that are over 100 years old become alive and self-aware and often plague or play tricks on humans. These objects are known as Tsukumogami. Japanese artists have created drawings and paintings of the more famous Tsukumogami, like the umbrella below.

A two-legged umbrella Tsukumogami from the "Hyakki Yagyo Zumaki" by Enshin KanĊ

We are all free to interpret ancient folklore any way we please, and after finding a small red glove on the floor of the number 1R AC Transit bus, I decided that lost objects are another form of Tsukumogami. Simply by virtue of being lost and out in the world on their own they gain a soul. It was a rainy day and the glove was abandoned in a little puddle of muddy water. I tucked it into my pack, brought it home and washed it, and proceeded to use a little stitchery to bring its inner soul to light.

Close-up of face

I had assumed the glove's animating spirit would be mischievous and a little mean (having been abandoned in a mud puddle on a bus floor), but what emerged was a sort of silly, slap-happy fellow.

Human hair sprouting from the fingertips

The addition of tufts of human hair (my own) sprouting from the fingers served to lend the glove Tsukumogami a little gravitas.

Ready to head out into the world

What to do with the newborn Tsukumogami? I decided to put it back where I had found it, where it had first gained its wandering soul: on the AC Transit 1R bus.

Riding the 1R

Who knows where it will wander now, what pranks will be played, and what legends will grow around the tale of the wandering Tsukumogami glove. 

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