A monster with its popped-out eyes dangling from the optic nerve, seen in the Gazu Hyakki Yakō
and various Edo Period yōkai
picture scrolls. In Sekien's image it is a small figure emerging from a household Buddhist altar, while in picture scrolls it is a thick, bonze-like character with pitch black skin. In the latter images, something like a hairy animal's tail or a fish's tailfin dangles from its waist, hinting that the artists imagined it as a transformation or possession perpetrated by some wild creature.
The word hotoke
in compound) means a buddha, but euphemistically it is also applied to the dead, to corpses and deceased souls. Corpses were sometimes ritually painted with clay to protect them from the influence of evil spirits, so the nuri-botoke
appears to be a corpse in which such a charm has failed.
Interestingly, Kawanabe Kyōsai did away with the euphemism and interpreted this monster as an actual Buddha-like figure, with coiled hair and a halo behind its grotesque face.
Murakami 2005 p. 248, Tada 2000 p. 155