Būyare Festival Cow Monsters by Yoshio Mingei
These cow monsters were made by Yoshio Utsunomiya at his workshop in Uwajima, Ehime.
Utsunomiya followed in the footsteps of his father in crafting lovingly made forms in washi papier-mâché, that somehow sum up the character of the town in which they live.
This could be of strong and friendly deer heads, or the cow demons known in local folklore.
The work taps into the tradition for ‘hariko’ paper models and toys. But ultimately the objects made at Yoshio Mingei (folk craft) are not defined by their purpose, but by the heart put into their creation.
These ‘būyare’ cows are miniature representations of the cow demons that feature in Uwajima’s annual festival. Cow demons or ushi-oni (or būyare), appear in local folk stories around Japan, and in Uwajima one such creature was said to appear to harass residents, until an epic battle to remove it. As a commemoration, large multi-person operated versions of the fighting cow monsters parade in the streets of the town each year in a July festival.
Expressive of the spirit of Uwajima, Yoshio Utsunomiya is important is making the heads of these figures, and these small versions too.
They are around 12cm long. The head can be operated, and there is a sword at the rear, which replaces the tail.