ALSO KNOWN AS:
Drinking Monkey Daruma
Japan Shoojoo literally means “orangutan,” but the spirit known as Shoojoo received his name from people unfamiliar with that great ape. Although fossilized orangutans have been discovered in China, in old Chinese and Japanese folklore the word orangutan was used to describe mythic monkeys with human faces who love wine and are thus envisioned with a heavy drinker’s crimson complexion. Thus the Japanese name for scarlet fever, shoojoo netsu, can be literally translated as “orangutan fever.” Shoojoo is the drinking monkey god. Shoojoo is the red deity who encompasses all this color’s possible implications: in East Asian cosmology, as elsewhere, the color red has ambiguous meanings. Symbolic of life, fertility, and good health, red wards off evil and banishes bad spirits, the equivalent of a magical stop sign. Hence red is often considered the most auspicious color. Red is also dreaded as emblematic of dangerous, potentially fatal diseases. Shoojoo was once included among the Shichi Fukujin, the Seven Spirits of Good Fortune, but he is an ambivalent spirit: sometimes benevolent, sometimes not. On the plus side, Shoojoo bestows wealth and immortality and also prevents disasters and accidents. He also bestows red illnesses like scarlet fever and smallpox. He can heal them, too.
Shoojoo dolls similar to modern Daruma dolls were once venerated and propitiated in houses struck by smallpox or by those hoping to avoid the disease.
A ladle, wine flask, or cup that is never empty no matter how much he drinks
Shoojoo, Daruma, and Okame (Mrs. Daruma) complement each other and often share altar space.
Daruma; Okame; Shichi Fukujin; Tanuki
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.