History That – Hannya

So I’m still doing assignments. WHOOOO! So I’m writing this up with around 15 minutes of writing and research. Double whooo! What is quality control? I guess I’ll just write about Hannya.

What is Hannya?

Well firstly, Hannya is a type of mask used in Noh plays (though that is not it’s sole purpose). Hannya masks belong to the vengeful spirit category of masks.  The primary characteristics of this mask are the two horns, open mouth and angry eyes. 

Hannya masks do not appear to have been inspired by a specific mythological demon. Hannya represents jealousy and malice, in the form of a serpent demon. Despite it’s use to represent negative traits and quite literally a demonic transformation, this mask can also be said to express sorry in the midst of all the jealousy and hatred.  The colour of a Hannya can demonstrate what type of spirit it is meant to represent – white for nobility, red for commoners and black for demons.


In anime, being compared to a hannya can either be an insult or as an indicator of the anger of a character. Some characters may choose to adopt the symbol, the symbolism behind the mask or just to strike terror into the hearts of people.  As a vengeful spirit mask, Hannya also appears from time, to time as a demon, with it’s back story directly inspired by the plays that the mask is used in. The back stories range from the ghost having been consumed by jealousy and anger to become a hannya (Aoi no Ue), having transformed into the demon in life (Dojoji) or just being plain demonic (Momijigari)