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131 Amabie

Illustration by: Kaori Hamura Long
Credit: NPR

Amabie is a Japanese creature of comfort. According to legend, the scaley, genderless mermaid-like figure emerged from the sea in the mid-nineteenth century to prophesise a fruitful harvest. Before recoiling back to the ocean, the three-legged creature explained that ‘If an epidemic comes, people should draw me and show me as widely as possible.’ Two centuries on, Manga artists continue to resurrect the cute creature whose image is widely believed to ward off plagues. Described by some as a ‘new Coronavirus countermeasure’, tens of thousands of Amabies – in all shapes and sizes – are circulating on social media. Sometimes with a beak. Sometimes with webbed feet. Sometimes with long flowing tresses. Amabie’s mythical appearance is always changing. What remains a constant, though, is the feeling of solace these drawings bring to those in times of turmoil.  #amabieforeveryone - Genevieve Drinkwater



A V&A/RCA HISTORY OF DESIGN MA PROJECT