Pointy horned and sharp-fanged… a jealous and vengeful woman turned
demon. Metallic eyes… looks to kill. Metallic teeth… to gnaw
perhaps at… what? Human flesh? Her nature is one of wrath and anger
and resentment. She is the best known of all Noh masks.
She is a striking representative of the magical jewels of Japan. She
is the mask used in Noh dramas… emanating from the Sarugaku
repertoire of performing arts… an ancient agricultural ritual which
included acrobatics and juggling and miming and conjuring… all
intermingling with dances and rites at shrines and temples.
There are many Hannya masks. I show you but one. I fear if I showed
you two you would be overwhelmed by the savagery of her gaze. If I
showed you three… the less bold amongst you would faint in terror
under the malignity of her leer. If I showed you four or more… it
would be kaputsville for even the mightiest in spirit amongst you…
for Hannya has many variations. Her coloring often depicts the
degree of her passion.
A gesture with two index finger pointing upwards from a man’s
forehead is an indication that a man’s wife is mad at him. Horns on a
man’s head may also mean he is being cuckolded. In one tale the
unrequited love between a woman and a priest reaches such intensity
that Hannya turns into a demonic serpent who wraps her body around a
temple bell consuming it and the priest in one fell swoop.
Choose your words and actions carefully when around this creature my
friends… for she is not a demon to mess with. She typifies the
beauty of Japanese mask-making used in theatrical productions. And
she angers quite easily. And she bites. And she gores. Beware. And oh
yeah… Happy Halloween.
For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits…may I
direct you to my home page at www.tyler-adam.com where you will
scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that says
Current Tidbits… and then click on it in order to view an image of
this lovely little antique mask of a demoness named Hannya. Made of
gold and shakudo.
And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.