Hannya Mask Meaning

The Hannya Mask meaning comes from the classic Japanese musical drama known as Noh or Nogaku. The Hannya Mask alongside around 450 other masks were used in Noh theater near the 14th century to portray various characters, moods and personalities. At the time, the masks were primarily hand carved out of Japanese Cypress also known as Hinoki. In Noh theater, the Hannya Mask was used to depict a female character who has been betrayed by her love and is then possessed with thoughts of jealousy, rage and hatred which transform her into a demon form. A typical Hannya Mask has 2 horns which emerge from it's head, sharp teeth and scowling eyes to show the anger and fury of a heartbroken woman. Although the Hannya Mask is portrayed as demonic and furious the mask can also be seen with emotions of sadness and sorrow. Hannya mask meanings are also dependent on the color of the mask. A dark red mask (more common) is used for when the women appears as a demon, but in her previous form colors show the women's class. For a women from the upper-class a white mask would be used, and for a women originating from the lower-class a light red mask would be used.

The actual term Hannya, is a Japanese term derived from the Sanskrit word Prajna, meaning Wisdom. There are many believed reasons for why the the mask was named the Hannya Mask. The most common of these reasons is that the mask was given this name to honor it's creator and artist, a monk named Hannya-bo. The mask is also said to have this name because it required a great deal of discipline, mindfulness and wisdom to carve and create.

Today the Hannya mask is most popular in the form of powerful and meaningful tattoos, beautiful home decoration pieces and also as demonic air-soft/paintball masks!


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