Korean onigawara roof tile from the Silla-Koryō Period. Approximately 17cm wide, 12cm high and 6cm thick
Onigawara (鬼瓦) is a Japanese word meaning a ‘demon’ or ‘goblin’ roof tile; they are found throughout the Far East, usually on Buddhist temples or,  in Japan, on Shintō shrines. Although fearsome in appearance they are intended to ward off evil spirits.
Onigawara are decorative roof tiles typically placed at the ends of the main ridge on temple structures, shrines, and residences. As an ornamental architectural element, Onigawara (literally “goblin tile”) came to prominence in Japan’s Kamakura period (1185 -1332), but the term is also used for decorative roof tiles in the shape of flowers or animals that were already used in the earlier Nara and Heian periods to prevent leaks and general weathering. The goblin-faced Onigawara is one of many decorative elements found in Japanese religious architecture.
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