Bao Quyen Phan Tran
Illustrator & Mural Artist
Also co-founder of
Digital Creative Marketing, s.r.o.

Studio DC Space in Prague.


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Oni and Shikigami

Mon Jul 19 2022

Oni 鬼

Oni is the most well-known spirit haunting the mountainsides and forests of Japan. They are large humanoid figures with brutish features and single horns growing out of their heads. Oni tend to dress in the skins of wild animals, particularly tigers.

In this illustration, I was inspired by Onni no Kannebutsu, which depicts an oni wearing a monk’s clothing.

It is said that an oni’s residence is the human heart. Their horns are the manifestation of the three poisons of Buddhism which are the root of all evil: delusion, attachment, and hatred. The more we use things for our benefit and act in our own self interest, the more our horns grow. The oni in monk’s garb is similar in meaning to a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The painting is a satire of monks and priests who dress and act pious, but who actually behave in a manner more fitting an oni than a buddha.

Illustration made for an exhibition in Japan, Osaka at @galleryiyn with a topic called Oni and Shikigami.