This print illustrates how the princess Takiyasha who is a sorceress can make ghosts appear.
Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre is a woodblock print by the Japanese artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861), who was especially renowned for his depictions of historical and mythical scenes. This print portrays tenth-century princess Takiyasha summoning a skeleton spectre to frighten Mitsukuni.
The princess is reciting a spell written on a handscroll. She summons up a giant skeleton which comes rearing out of a terrifying black void, crashing its way through the tattered palace blinds with its bony fingers to menace Mitsukuni and his companion. Princess Takiyasha was the daughter of the provincial warlord Taira no Masakado who tried to set up an „Eastern Court“ in Shimōsa Province, in competition with the emperor in Kyōto. However, his rebellion was put down in the year 939 and Masakado was killed. After his death, Princess Takiyasha continued living in the ruined palace of Sōma. This print shows the episode from the legend when the emperor’s official, Ōya no Mitsukuni, comes to search for surviving conspirators.
In Japanese folklore, Gashadokuro, (がしゃどくろ) also known as Odokuro, or („starving skeleton“) are giant skeletons that are fifteen times taller than an average person. If a Gashadokuro sees a human, it will grab it and attempt to bite its head off with its giant teeth. Gashadokuro are created from gathering bones from people who have died of starvation. The only way a Gashadokuro can be detected before it appears is by hearing a ringing in one’s ears.
People who are being targeted by this mammoth- sized skeleton hear extremely loud bells ringing throughout their ears. Gashadokuro targets people when they are alone. It roams about after midnight.