Painting of Amabie by Janette Maxey

It’s the right time in history to draw your own version of Amabie (ヤマビエ) the three-legged mermaid/merman of Japanese folklore.

The story of the Amabie began in the Japanese area of what is currently known as Kumamoto. The Amabie is a kind of Yokai, a supernatural creature or monster, who came to an official with a portent of the future. The Amabie is described simply as having fish scales, three fin-like legs, and the beak of a bird. 

Ink and Paper Drawing of Amabie
Ink and Paper drawing of Amabie by Michelle Zacharias. I like how her sketch most closely resembles in both shape and color to the original woodblock printing from the 1800s when it was originally first seen. I love her addition of little fish and crab sea creatures!

Good harvest will continue for six years from the current year; if disease spreads, show a picture of me to those who fall ill and they will be cured.

Wikipedia

The Amabie, pronounced Ah-ma-bee-ay, gave special instructions that a drawing of itself should be shown to prevent the illness or to cure those who are ill. With the Corona virus pandemic sweeping the world and still rising here in Japan, my friends and I strongly felt the need to join in the drawings of Amabie.

During the requested lockdown we have been connecting each Thursday with a Skype Sketching session. We have found it very helpful to see each other, to speak to each other, and most of all support each other during this time. As a group of artists, we usually create in textiles, illustration, painting, pencils, metals and more.

Sketch of Amabie from Japanese folklore
Eva did some practice sketches before moving to a final watercolour piece.

The Amabie gave special instructions that a drawing of itself should be shown to prevent the illness or to cure those who are ill. With the Corona virus pandemic sweeping the world and still rising here in Japan, my friends and I strongly felt the need to join in the drawings of #AMABIEchallenge

Pastel drawing of Japanese Amabie
I have been playing with pastel pencils in our Skype Sketch sessions and using a pack of very excellent toothy postcards as paper.

Most of us are a part of Art Byte Critique and are looking for additional ways to express our creativity since many of our shows planned for 2020 have been canceled. Our brief for this session was simply to draw an Amabie. No specifics, no limits. 

Colored Pencil drawing of Japanese folklore yotai Amabie
Lori used colored pencils, maybe some watercolour pencils, too for her depiction of the Amabie

Some of us chose to draw similar to the initial woodblock printing of an Amabie that dates back to the 1800s, others, simply glanced at the spare written description and created their own vision of what it may look like.

I am most impressed by our variety of designs and variety of materials. I enjoy working with pastels, but rarely ever draw so I feel it is such a miracle when something comes out legible! Every sketch session has been a big help.

Our Art Byte Critique founder, Arthur J Huang, has been drawing Amabie as part of his daily drawings challenge, check them out on his
IG: lifeasaconsumer

Black and white ink and paper Amabie drawing
Another quick mark making drawing of Amabie, this time using ink on paper. I love how it looks like its dancing!

“Amabie can be seen as an Edo Period (1603-1868) meme,” said Victoria Rahbar, a graduate student at Stanford University’s Center for East Asian Studies. “Amabie tells the public to draw [it], and then make that drawing go viral to prevent the plague.

BBC Article

Join in the #AMABIEchallenge and post your drawing. While it is unlikely to cure the virus, it is a harmless bit of fun that can help a loved one remember that you wish for their speedy recovery! 

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