Mythical Creatures Series
While many European legends and mythologies portray the crow as harbingers of doom or death, perhaps because they eat carrion, have unnerving calls, are black as night and seen as omens, some Asian cultures see them as guides who represent the sun. So depending on what legend you read up on, you might be surprised to find them more helpful than ominous.
What is it?
A creature which is commonly found in various mythologies, the three-legged crow is said to inhabit and represent the sun.
Ability / Power
This seems to vary depending on what cultural mythology you read. Some of the more common ones include:
Chinese Mythology – The crow is called Sanzuwu or sun crow, and usually depicted as red rather than black. It is responsible for the sun’s passage across the sky. There are many legends of this bird, and one that I liked is as follows:
The Chinese sun goddess was the mother to ten child-suns. Every day one of the children would be carried to the top of a mulberry tree on the back of a crow, and then fly into the sky to be the sun for each day. Each child took turns each day so there was light during the days. It is said that one day, all ten child-suns ascended to the sky on the same day and scorched Earth to drought. The emperor, who also happened to be their father, tried to convince the child-suns to ascend one at a time, but after they did not listen, he ordered an archer to shoot them down. It just happened that one of the child-suns was visiting the underworld that day and hence was not killed. Folklore says this three-legged crow now lives inside the sun.
Japanese Mythology – The Yatagarasu was specifically a three-legged crow which translates to large crow or perhaps a raven. It is said to be evidence of the will of Heaven or divine intervention in human affairs, since legend says this bird was sent from heaven to as a guide to the Emperor Jimmu on his first journey to Yamato.
Koren Mythology – Known as a Samjok-o, the three-legged black crow is regarded as a symbol of power thought superior to both the dragon and the Korean phoenix.
Put simply, a crow with 3 legs!
Appearances In Culture
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game, there is a well-known card called “Yata-Garasu”, which is banned in the advanced format of the game. Another card, “Legacy of Yata-Garasu”, is named after the famous card and features it in its artwork.
- There is a Touhou Project character; a hell-raven named Utsuho Reiuji, who devoured the corpse of the Yatagarasu, who is referred to as a sun god in the series. As she was not born a yatagarasu, she does not have three legs, instead sporting a cannon-like device on her arm that is referred to as a ‘third leg’, in reference to the three-legged crow. She has a special attack called “Ten Evil Suns”, which is a reference to Houyi’s aforementioned exploits.
- In the Digimon series, there is a digimon called ‘”Yatagaramon” (a.k.a. “Crowmon”), which resembles a giant crow with three legs.
- Yatagarasu is the name of a child in the My-HiME anime, belonging to Shiho Munakata.
- In the Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, “Yatagarasu” is the great thief who steals to reveal the dirty secrets and seek justice. The title is given due to thief’s habit of leaving the Yatagarasu symbol printed card with the notice of thief’s next target.
- In contemporary Korean dramas set in Goguryeo, like Jumong (TV series) or Kingdom of the Winds, the Samjoko is a symbol of power.
- Yatagarasu is a persona summon in the Persona video game series that looks like a black crow with three legs. In Persona 3 and Persona 4 it is of the Sun Arcana.
- In the game Genji: Dawn of the Samurai, one of the bosses is a giant, fire-wielding three-legged bird.
Did you know? Both the Japan Football Association and subsequently its administered teams such as the Japan national football team use the symbol of Yatagarasu (Three-legged crow) in their emblems and badges.
Previous Mythical Creature Posts:
Marchosias: A Kick-Ass Creature, Ningyo: The Deadly Mermaid, Abatwa: Riding Ants To Victory, Cait Sith: It Gets Into Your Mind, Anka: The Goliath Bird, Huldra: Norse Forest Lady, iele: Romanian Nymphs Of The Air, Manticore: The Man-Eater, Hantu Demon: Legendary Spirit, Lich: Undead Necromancer, Joan The Wad: Queen of Piskies, Fomorian: Ancient Gigantic God, Rakshasa: Shape Shifter Demon, Hellhound: Guarding The Gates Of The Dead, Sleipnir: Eight-Legged Horse