Morning Myth – Jorogumo

This one gave me the shivers just reading about it. I absolutely disliked spiders.

女郎蜘蛛 (じょろうぐも)
Prostitute Spider
“Like many creatures once thought capable of haunting a place or bewitching a person, the jorōgumo is a quite real animal recognized by modern zoology. The name is now given to the tetragnathid spider Nephila clavata, but long ago it was considered the same as the araneid kogane-gumo (genus Argiope). Both are large orb-weaving spiders with attractive markings. Other names considered equivalent were madara-gumo, and the Chinese moniker rakushinpu (luò xīn fù). Although today this type of spider is known not be venomous, in former times it was thought to carry dangerous poison along with its supernatural inclinations. The famous Edo period encyclopedia, the Wakan Sansai Zue 和漢三才図会 says of the jorōgumo:

絡新婦とは谷に女郎蜘蛛と称するもので、黄 ・ 黒 ・ 緑 ・ 赤の斑が
(普通の) 蜘蛛より長く、細い腰、尖った尻に手足は長く黒い。糸は黐
つれてぴかぴか光る。けれども蛍火 (ほたるび) のように鮮やかでない。
The rakushinpu is a thing which takes the name of jorōgumo in the valleys, and its yellow, black, green and red speckles are beautiful, but on the contrary it is ugly. Its poison is extremely terrible. In form, compared to a [usual] spider, it has a long, slender back, and a pointed rear end with long black limbs. Its thread is sticky like bird-lime and is tinged with yellow, and it makes its webs in the branches of trees and the eaves of houses. If a person seizes and strikes it will be brittlely smashed and it will bleed and die. Other spiders do not have blood [their bodily fluids are not said to be red]. Its rear end is sharp and in two places it oscillates and sparkles. However it is not as vivid as the light of a firefly. Old things often produce light. At times it is unexpectedly seen on a dark night, or in a light rain.”

The Obakemono Project



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