Zelda, Chinese Zodiac and Yamakujira


Why is Ganon a boar? (and a great bore…)

February is almost at its end, but we got ourselves eleven more months of the Year of the Pig! So, what better way to say goodbye to this month than with Ganon Boar, especially when the game franchise he comes from, The Legend of Zelda, just had its 33th birthday yesterday!
Fine, we admit it, we always jump on any given opportunity to draw Zelda characters and lately the game and lore has grown immensely, with intricate designs and a timeline capable of making Sherlock Holmes lose a few nights trying to piece it together.

Thus, we went back to nostalgic, simpler times, and drew the character trinity that these games revolve around: Zelda, Link and Ganon.
Each one represents an archetype of sorts: Zelda is Wisdom, Link is Courage and Ganon is Power.

This got us thinking… while the forms associated with Wisdom and Courage are easily perceived, why did Power get a pig shape?
Our answer is laying within Japanese culture and mythology. The Chinese Zodiac is said to have been introduced in Japan in 604 A.D. and the Japanese boar became part of it as Yamakujira meaning “the mountain whale”.
The boar is considered a fearsome and dangerous animal and there are several words and expressions in Japanese culture referring to boars. It is also linked to fertility, recklessness, prosperity and yes, power. Killing a boar is also seen as a way of proving one’s courage and that is Link’s destiny: to build his Courage and take down Ganon, the embodiment of Power.
Therefore, the boar is a very important symbol, appearing in all sorts of art forms like sculpture, poetry and even card games like hanafuda.

What a marvelous lesson we learned! Nothing comes from nothing and what seemed to be just a game developer’s fancy to us, turned out to be an homage to his own country’s rich culture. We humbly strive to follow this path and become inspired by our own country’s folklore.

Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we had fun drawing and researching the role of pigs in Japan culture. See you next week and like always,

*Have a great weekend and stay inspired *

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