Fierce Nekomata and the Skull of Goemon

⊛ Fierce Nekomata and the Skull of Goemon
⊛ 7.2 x 10 in • 182 x 257 mm
⊛ cut + torn paper + washi / wood

The fiercely playful Nekomata (猫叉) joins my hoard of Yokai today. When I first came to Japan, I wondered why so many cats were completely lacking in tails. I guessed that they might be a strangely stubby local breed. It turns out that the owners cut off the tails when the cat is a kitten so it won't turn into a nekomata, a "forked-cat".

How a cat becomes a nekomata (or any kind of bake-neko / monster cat) is...odd. And downright ungrateful. If a cat is fed in the same place for a certain number of years, it turns evil. It then grows to rather unusual size, walks around on its hind legs, plays with dangerously magical fireballs (or dangerously fiery magic balls?), and can transform into a human. Most creepily, they are said to be able to re-animate the dead and control them like puppets. Big, ooky, used-to-be-your-best-friend puppets.

From a creative standpoint, this piece made me realize something very, very important. Thinking "For my next piece, I want to do something quick and fun!", is the surest way to guarantee that I will be spending days and days wracking my brains on how to get that piece done. Nekomata fought me nearly every step of the way, particularly when it came to color. For some reason, I hit a massive wall when trying to pick the right color scheme. Ghostly, yet fun. Creepy, yet light and funky. I'm very happy with the way my kitty turned out, but, man, I got scratched a lot. Thank goodness for the hours of amusement my bony friends provided. Poor Goemon, I think he's getting dizzy, being batted around like that.