Onigawara (from the Japanese word oni, meaning “ogre”) are monster heads sometimes found on the roofs of Japanese buildings. They are similar to what we typically call “grotesques” – decorative creatures with symbolic, religious, or ideological rather than practical function. The onigawara I’ve seen are generally closer to relief-carvings than other types of grotesque, and accordingly, I haven’t found any indication that they ever serve as gargoyles. Such a function would likely necessitate three-dimensionality. I greatly enjoy their highly-expressive aesthetic, and though they’re not quite gargoyles, I feel that they should be considered as related creatures.
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Alexandra Kiely, aka A Scholarly Skater, is an art historian based in the northeastern United States. She loves wandering down the dark and dusty corners of art history and wholeheartedly believes in visual art's ability to enrich every person's life.
Her favorite periods of art history are 19th-century American painting and medieval European art and architecture. When she not looking at, reading about, writing about, or teaching art, she's probably ice dancing or reading.
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