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In The Shroud by Aliya Chen.jpg
Abilities attracting and binding hijo
Sapient Yes
World Komashi
Universe Cosmere
Featured In Yumi and the Nightmare Painter
This page or section contains spoilers for Yumi and the Nightmare Painter!
This information has the ability to potentially ruin elements of the plot for the reader. Proceed with caution if you have not read this book.

Yoki-hijo, a term meaning "'Girl of Commanding Primal Spirits'", are highly Invested individuals on Komashi who are able to summon spirits, through artistic rock stacking, and bind them into useful tools.[1] They are also sometimes called Chosen.[2]

Becoming a Yoki-hijo[edit]

Given the meaning of the name itself, only women are known to become yoki-hijo. These women become yoki-hijo at birth--supposedly they are chosen by the hijo, though the occurrence may be random.[2] Their nature is indicated by an omen, such as a shooting star, observed at the time of their birth.[3] Very few women are selected to become yoki-hijo--there are never more than sixteen at a given time,[4] with no more than one chosen per year.[2] At the time the father machine was activated, only fourteen yoki-hijo existed.[2] No new yoki-hijo were born after the activation of the father machine.[5] Following the machine's destruction, Yumi is the only one still living.[6]

At some point, whether before birth or after, the yoki-hijo becomes uniquely Invested. This Investiture enables them to summon the hijo and bind them into useful tools.[2] That process expends some of their own Investiture, though with time and rest the Investiture is recovered.[1][7] They are also able to do magical things other than binding hijos.[8] Yumi is observed by Design to be Invested on the same level as an Elantrian, though the yoki-hijo who were killed by the father machine gained more Investiture than normal over the millenniums.[5][9]

Though the yoki-hijo who are part of the reform movement insist on retiring at the age of seventy,[10] and in some cases they allegedly may have been forced to serve in captivity,[2] yoki-hijo retain their nature through the end of their lives.[11]


Yoki-hijo are assigned a kihomaban, or warden, to act as a guardian and sponsor.[2] Girls who become yoki-hijo are traditionally taken from their parents as a baby,[12] and their warden is effectively a second parent,[2] though those who are part of the reform movement do maintain contact and visit their families for a few weeks each year.[13] The kihomaban is also responsible for the girl's training, both in the rituals and customs she must follow as well as the skills necessary to perform her duties.[14] They are taught to read, for example, so that they can learn the required prayers.[15] When they begin to train on stacking stones, they may spend several months simply learning to study the rocks to evaluate their shapes, weights, and centers of balance.[16] The next phase of training involves learning to create low stacks on a stable foundation.[16]

Wardens have superiors that they report to, and may be removed from duty.[10] These same superiors may also declare a yoki-hijo unfit for duty and take punitive actions against her,[17] though this is unlikely to be the case for those part of the reform movement.

Duties and Rituals[edit]

Generally speaking, yoki-hijo travel around Torio by wagon, visiting a new town each day and moving at night.[7][18] Their ultimate purpose is to summon the local hijo and bind them into devices that the villagers need for survival.[1]

Traditionally, yoki-hijo are responsible for fulfilling countless duties and rituals on a daily basis. Nearly every part of their lives has some ritualized aspect. In addition to their warden, the yoki-hijo are assigned attendants who assist with these rituals. The attendants are responsible for feeding, washing, undressing and dressing their yoki-hijo, among other things.[2] Reformed yoki-hijo do perform some of these activities for themselves, however, and may take days off for rest or other personal reasons.[10] As with the yoki-hijo, wardens and attendants have certain customs and rituals that they perform, such as the wearing of a specific clothing each day.[19]

Personal Care[edit]

A yoki-hijo's day begins with ritual eating, bathing, and dressing.[2] The attendants enter the woman's room when she awakens and set up a table for breakfast, then proceed to feed the woman themselves.[15]

After breakfast, the yoki-hijo proceeds to the town's cold spring, which is reserved for the Chosen while she is in town,[20] or to the town's bath house if they do not have a spring.[14] On the way, the attendants use enormous fans to block the villagers' view of the yoki-hijo.[2] The attendants undress the woman as well as themselves, then bathe their yoki-hijo using seven different soaps.[2] The soaps themselves are placed on a floating plate, and while some are for cleansing--such as a red, exfoliating powder--many of them are actually perfume creams and moisturizers.[2][10] Each washing is followed by a rinse, following the pattern of the artist's sequence of progress: they begin with one wash and rinse with the first soap, and end with thirteen washes and rinses with the seventh.[2] After this, the yoki-hijo takes a final rinse, remaining 144 seconds underwater before resurfacing.[2]

With the washing complete, the attendants leave to dress themselves and prepare the yoki-hijo's clothing, giving the woman some time alone. When she exits the spring, the attendants clothe her in the designated ritual tobok.[2]

At the end of the day, attendants again help her to undress and clothe her in a thin nightgown underdress as well as a bulky, formal sleeping gown.[7][21] The attendants also place a circle of flower petals around her at night, along with a ring of seeds for good luck.[7]

Prayer and Meditation[edit]

After the morning rituals are performed, the yoki-hijo traditionally moves on to the town's shrine, again obscured from view by fronds.[2] Here she prays several ritual prayers. There are thirteen in total, though only six are considered strictly necessary and these require half an hour to say.[2][14] After prayers, the yoki-hijo takes time to clear her mind and meditate. This whole process typically takes around one hour.[2] The woman's warden approaches when the time for meditation is over, and while they might elect to continue on sooner, they typically wait for the local steamwell to erupt first.[2]

Stacking Stones[edit]

With prayers and meditations complete, the yoki-hijo leaves the shrine and heads toward the place of ritual, called the kimomakkin in the Torish language, where the hijo are summoned. Most villages only have one, and the area is sometimes fenced around. She makes this journey uncovered so that villagers may see her. The locals gather rocks over time, placing them in the place of ritual for a yoki-hijo to use when she visits the town. As the Chosen enters the place of ritual, villagers gather and spirit scribes sing songs and play music that involves chanting, drums, and flutes. The stone at the place of ritual is hotter than usual, so the yoki-hijo puts on kneepads to make her work easier.[1]

The yoki-hijo works for several hours, stacking stones in complex arrangements that draw the interest of the nearby spirits. Typically in one session they will build several dozen stacks, each one comprised of thirty or more stones. In some cases, shorter but more complex stacks may be used.[1] Most yoki-hijo summon six to ten spirits on average.[1][10] During her lifetime, Yumi was able to summon twelve spirits per session on average, and once managed twenty spirits.[1] As the hijo are drawn to her, the Chosen feels a tugging sensation.[4]

After finishing her stacks, the yoki-hijo directs her attention to binding the spirits. She must be careful to proceed to this step before falling unconscious from exhaustion. The local spirit scribes develop an ordered list of supplicants with the greatest need, who are directed to approach the yoki-hijo one at a time to make their request. The yoki-hijo uses the summoned spirits to fulfill these, turning to each one and sharing the request while forming an impression in her mind. If the impression is not clear, the spirit may become confused or frightened and leave. After each available spirit has been bound, the yoki-hijo's duties are completed, and her attendants return her to their wagon.[1]


In Torish culture, yoki-hijo are very highly respected, with few having greater authority.[2] Their position is seen as one of service to the people--they are served so that they may serve others.[19] It is considered rude to contradict a yoki-hijo, even to give a compliment.[2] While the various rituals and expectations placed upon them (thought to be decreed by the spirits[19]) have traditionally limited their personal freedoms, those who are part of the reform movement exercise greater autonomy.[10] This movement began several hundred years prior to the activation of the machine, and nearly all of the yoki-hijo--twelve--subscribed to it at that time, with only Yumi and one other remaining orthodox.[10]

Some stories tell of yoki-hijo falling in love, though it is unknown if even reformed yoki-hijo develop romantic relationships.[14]

Known Yoki-hijo[edit]


  1. a b c d e f g h Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 4#
  2. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 2#
  3. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 12#
  4. a b Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 24#
  5. a b c Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 32#
  6. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter epilogue#
  7. a b c d Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 6#
  8. Shardcast Interview
    Arcanum - 2023-07-30#
  9. Shardcast Interview
    Arcanum - 2023-07-30#
  10. a b c d e f g Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 22#
  11. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 34#
  12. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 14#
  13. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 23#
  14. a b c d Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 13#
  15. a b Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 8#
  16. a b Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 20#
  17. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 19#
  18. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 40#
  19. a b c Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 9#
  20. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 10#
  21. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 7#
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