Written by Jonathan Wojcik
DAY 06: CLAYDOL!
One of my favorites from the third generation, this eerie psychic/ground type is among several "archaeological" pokemon we've seen over the years; creatures seemingly born from the carvings of ancient, long dead civilizations. How were they brought to life? How do they remain alive? How is that some of them can reproduce? We'll probably never know, which is just another reason these possessed artifacts are so damn cool...maybe even a little scary.
Claydol is an especially fascinating example of these beings thanks to its mysterious real-world inspiration, the dogu. Roughly 15,000 of these hollow, clay figurines have been unearthed around Japan, some dated as much as 14,000 years old. Claydol in particular is inspired by the Shakokidogu, characterized by huge eyes that may represent ancient Inuit snow goggles.
The purposes of these idols are very poorly understood, though in the case of the shakokidogu, nearly every recovered example has been found deliberately broken, even cut apart by some ancient tool. Rational, well-supported mainstream theory holds that they served a medicinal purpose, while irrational, crackpot conspiracy theory holds, as you may have guessed, that these are actually carvings of spooky space aliens who came from the stars to impart ancient man with their spooky space secrets.
Whatever the case (I'm not saying it wasn't aliens, but it wasn't aliens) the mystical nature and unusual, immediately recognizable appearance of shakokidogu has made these enigmatic figures a common sight in Japanese entertainment, quite often as monsters that may or may not originate from space. Common as they are, Claydol immediately stands out from the crowd with its eerie array of eyes, encircling its entire head in a repeating chain of emotionless, almost owl-like faces. As cool as I think Shakkoumon here is, Pokemon did a great job translating a famous artifact into a completely new, iconic being, every bit as weird and cryptic as the real thing.
What I really want to know, though, is why on Arceus's Green Earth this multi-eyed clay idol is not named "EYEDOL?"