Miyako-jima’s Paantu Festival: Traumatizing small children to bring them good luck

These dirt demons appear to be a variant of the namahage demons of Kanto’s northeastern coastal region. The word “paantu” for evil spirit sounds like a close cognate for “haantu” which is evil spirit for Malay language, which suggests a common Austronesian or proto-Austronesian origin.

RocketNews24

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Say hello to your newest recurring nightmare, kids!

Held in Miyako-jima, one of the smallest of the Okinawa Islands, Paantu is a centuries-old festival which takes place during the ninth month of the Chinese calendar each year. During the festival, groups of men are elected to dress as the paantu, evil spirits covered from head to toe with mud and foliage, and are given the task of driving out demons and cleansing the island of bad luck.

Of course, like any good festival involving involving mud-covered monsters, this also means scaring the life out of small children…

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