The Baku

Baku Netsuke
Baku Netsuke
Baku Netsuke
Baku Netsuke
Baku Netsuke



Type: Netsuke

Sold. UK, private collection.

Materials: Warthog tusk. Amber inlay.

Dimensions: 54×35×25 mm.


Many cultures have mythological beings which help humans when they are overcome by nightmares. In Japan Baku is such a creature. When a Japanese farmer has a bad dream he shouts, "Devour, o Baku! Devour my evil dream!"

Baku may visit the sleeping by itself, looking for nightmares, or it can come when being called upon. Baku is mainly a positive character in the Japanese mythology. It helps to get rid of nightmares; however there are some rare references that Baku may eat regular dreams as well, not just nightmares.

Baku looks like a synthesis of several animals. It is mostly said to have an elephant head (including its trunk and tusks), a lion's mane, a rhino's forelock, a horse's or a lion's torso, a tiger's paws, and a cow's tail.

It is mostly considered a good thing to have a Baku in your bedroom as it will spare you from nightmares.

I depicted Baku having caught a nightmare and getting ready to devour it.

This netsuke is carved from the tusk of an African warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus) and is stained for effect. Its eyes are inlaid with Baltic amber. I gave Baku's eyes a golden shade as a symbol of its mythical fiery essence. I also gave it male sexual characteristics as I think it possesses the male energy of Yan.

The "nightmares" eyes are inlaid with bleached warthog tusk and have amber pupils.

My signature is on the bottom.