graphic reading Andell Family Sundays Anytime

Andell Family Sundays Anytime—Scare Nightmares Away with Baku!

March 7, 2021
Alicia Vogl Saenz, Senior Education Coordinator

Have you ever had a bad dream? Wouldn't it be great to prevent them? This adorable little beastie can be your bestie in the middle of the night. It's a nightmare-eating baku! Baku are mythical creatures from Japan that are part elephant, lion, and ox. A long time ago in Japan, people, especially children, would place an image of a baku near their bed or under their pillow to ward off unpleasant dreams.

Look at Art!

Take a good look at this image of a baku. (Hint—the baku is at the top of the artwork!) Look for the elephant part. Now look for where it looks like a lion.

Tachibana Morikuni, Baku, c. 1740, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Ruth and Milton Hecht, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA
Tachibana Morikuni, Baku, c. 1740, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Ruth and Milton Hecht, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

This work of art is a woodcut print. A print is made by transferring an image from one surface to another. Think of when you step in a puddle then walk on the dry sidewalk. The water on your foot makes a footprint on the sidewalk!

To make this woodcut, the artist first carved the picture in a block of wood, then applied ink with a roller. He then laid paper on the inked block and pressed and rubbed all over the block so that the image transferred onto the paper. This process is kind of like using a rubber stamp.

Let's Make a Baku!

Step 1—Gather Your Supplies: No Need to Buy Anything!

supplies for art activity

  • Printout of the baku image above
  • Index card, cardstock, or thin cardboard
  • Masking tape
  • Pencil
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Colored pencils or thin markers

Step 2—Transfer the Image

Put the printout of the baku upside down on a smooth, hard surface. A table or desk are perfect. 

covering the back of the image with pencil scribbles to fill in the entire page

Using a pencil, cover the back of the image by scribbling, until the whole page is filled in. Now turn it over.

Place the index card, cardstock, or thin cardboard under the printout. Tape both sheets of paper to the table or desk with masking tape.

tracing the image with a pen

Using a ballpoint pen, trace the baku.

Step 3—Decorate

image transferred to cardstock

Lift the printout—you should see your baku on the cardstock! Yay!

finished design

Using colored pencils or markers, add color and details.

On the back, write: Please eat my nightmares, Baku! Thank you!

Step 4—Put Baku Near Your Bed

You can tape your artwork to the wall or dresser, or even put it under your pillow!

Step 5—Dream Sweet Dreams!

If you share your artwork on social media, tag us at @lacma! We love seeing your art!

Join us on Sunday, March 14—and anytime after—to listen to storyteller Ova Saopeng share tales about the naga, garuda, and other mythical creatures from Southeast Asia.

Discover other family-friendly art-making blogs on Unframed and check out our video content on LACMA's YouTube channel.

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