The use of magic as a shield against evil powers is a feature of numerous cultures worldwide. Amulets protect their owner against dark magic, and focus on avoiding the 'evil eye' (a curse bestowed by a look from a sorcerer). protection is equally desirable against a variety of dark creatures, such as werewolves, kappas and basilisks.
The kappa is named after the Japanese for ‘river’ (kawa) and ‘child’ (wappa). Written by Akamatsu Sōtan, Tonegawa zushi is an illustrated history of the Tone River. According to Sōtan, the river was believed to be home to the neneko kappa, illustrated here. With webbed claws and scaly skin, it was a dangerous creature that moved location every year, causing chaos wherever it went.
Beware the Basilisk
This manuscript, made in Italy in 1595, contains an unique series of drawings of mythical beasts. Here is the basilisk, renowned for being able to kill with its stare alone. According to the Roman writer Pliny, basilisks could only be killed by dropping a weasel down their burrows. The weasel’s scent would prove fatal to the basilisk, although both creatures would die in the ensuing struggle.