The most well-known of theÂ Oni demon masksÂ in JapaneseÂ theaterÂ the Hannya mask has two sharp horns protruding from the temples, and bulging eyes staring from beneath a glowering forehead. The mouth is a gaping hole with grotesquely exaggerated canine teeth protruding from the mouth like the fangs of aÂ wild animal. With its range of fierceÂ emotionsÂ and expressions, the Hannya mask is aÂ favoriteÂ tattoo imageÂ with enthusiasts of traditionalÂ Japanese tattooing.
The Hannya mask first appeared in the Japanese Noh and Bunraku plays around the 14th century, when theatrical masks – carved of wood — were used to depict the character’s state of mind or temperament. The Hannya mask represents a woman who has been betrayed by love and is filled with rage, jealousy and hatred. She has become a demon. In fact, she bears little resemblance to a woman at all. In the 14th century, all women characters were played by men and the masks were a favored prop.
One legend of the Hannya tells of aÂ beautiful woman who falls in love with a priest. Some folk talesÂ say she was rejected outright, while others have the priest returning her love, yet he was forbidden by his vows toÂ touchÂ her. Her longing and desperation, the tragedy and pain of her unrequited love turns her into a monster consumed with rage, jealousy, anger and revenge.
The social rank of the demon-woman is indicated by the colours of the mask. The lighter tones identify her as a member of the aristocracy, while a red lower half places her in the lower classes, and a completely red visage declares her a true demon. The darker the tones of the complexion, the more violent the portrayal of theÂ emotionsÂ of the character who wears the mask.
Although the woman depicted by the Hannya Mask is a woman so hideously jealous that she has become a monster, the suffering and passion of this ‘victim of unrequited love’ is revealed in the details of the mask decoration, especially aroundÂ the eyes. An artful tattooist will pay attention to this human aspect of the demon-woman.
In Japan, the Hannya mask is a popular good luck motif, and, like other terrifying icons, is believed to ward off evil spirits fromÂ the home.
The Hannya mask as a tattoo is often incorporated into a larger, more elaborateÂ Japanese tattoo design, as just one in many elements that make up the story being related.
Â The SerpentÂ biting its own tail, is first seen as early as 1600 years BC in Egypt. From there it moved to the Phoenicians and then to the Greeks, who called it the Ouroboros, which means devouring its tail.
The serpentÂ biting its tail is found in other cultural mythologies as well, including Norse myth, whereÂ the serpent’s name is JÃ¶rmungandr, and in Hindu, where the dragon circles the tortoise whichÂ supportsÂ the four elephants that carry the world.
Symbolically, Ouroboros has several meanings. The first, is the symbolism ofÂ the serpentdevouring and consuming its own tail, literally eating itself. This symbolizes the cyclical Nature of the Universe: creation out of destruction, Life out of Death. The Ouroboros eats its own tail to sustain its life, in an eternal cycle of renewal. This secondary symbolism is an echo of the concept ofÂ infinity, of cycles without end. A Universe without boundaries or limits.
The flag of the short-lived Italian Regency of Carnaro featured the Ouroboros on it. The Ouroboros has been incorporated into the crests of the Hungarian and Romanian Unitarian churches.
Carl Jung interpreted the Ouroboros as having an archetypal significance to the human psyche. The JungianÂ psychologistÂ Erich Neumann writes of it as aÂ representationÂ of the pre-ego “dawn state”, depicting the undifferentiated infancy experience of both mankind and theÂ individualÂ child. Client gets a customÂ Ouroboros Tattoo Design, done in morbid tattoo parlor in cash and carry mall Makati Manila, Philippines.