Amabie: How cultures deal differently with threat and fear

One of the most fascinating aspects of the response from Orcadian shoppers to the pandemic COVID-19 are the shelves of local supermarkets emptied of toilet roll and pasta. Indeed this surge in sales of products comprised of durum wheat and water extends throughout Scotland and into the deepest parts of our southern neighbours.

How different cultures respond to fear and panic is an interesting study at this time in itself. Where we ditch the tattie for tagliatelle other cultures have looked into the myths of their past to provide comfort and reassurance.

In Japan the Amabie is inspiring artists and in fact people in general to  put pen/pencil – digital or otherwise to paper/screen and compose representations of this mythical creature.

Amabie Japanese Mythical creature

The Amabie is a three legged mermaid who emerges from the sea. It predicts an abundant harvest – or an epidemic. It is one of several spirits in Japan known as – Yokai.

There is no one pictorial representation of Amabie which has led to a flourishing of images of them.

The current interpretation of the appearance of the Amabie is a positive one. It is seen as warding off infectious disease.  The more sharing of these images, according to this version of the legend,  is that it will keep disease away.

In this technologically advanced 21st Century which gives us no protection over a highly infection virus it is to the myths of the past that many citizens in Japan have turned to. Then using the  phenomenal reach of the digital age with social media pages like Twitter to share the images as a positive reaction to anxiety and fear.

It is certainly more creative and inspiring than yet another bowl of pasta.

If you would like to see the amazing images being produced of Amabie then Twitter is the best place.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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