Monday, May 19, 2008

Red Hanya mask

Red Hanya mask

Hanya Mask Iwami kagura

For the past couple of years, I've been making masks in the Iwami Kagura style. Iwami kagura is the local form of sacred dance theatre that is almost unknown in the rest of Japan, but round here people are fanatical about it. My masks are of course for sale, so if interested, please contact me.

The masks were originally carved from wood, but about 100 years ago new methods using paper and ground seashells began to be used. Like most Japanese crafts, making masks involves dozens of steps and can take several weeks to complete.
As well as being used in kagura, the masks are also put up in the entrance of people's houses to drive away evil spirits and bad luck.

The Hanya is a female demon, and in the original story a woman fell in love with a priest, and, unable to consummate her love, her face became distorted with anger and jealousy. Some sources suggest the story originated in the Genji Monogatari (Tales of Genji). The name "Hanya" comes from a certain gentleman named Hannyabo. He was a monk in the Muromachi Period ( 14th & 15th Centuries), and was a master mask-maker whose masks were really terrifying. There is a sense that the Hanya represents the anger and jealousy of any woman. If you have seen a Japanese wedding then you may have wondered about the meaning of the large hood that the bride wears. Its called a tsunokakushi, which means "horn hider".
The body language used to suggest someone is becoming angry or jealous is to put your hands to the side of your head with the forfingers extended to imitate horns.

To buy this or any other masks please email me.

I will be posting more images of my masks, and lots of posts on Iwami Kagura.

Blue Hanya

Regular Hanya

Purchase a selection of ema from GoodsFromJapan


  1. your masks hold elegance

  2. I have some bout 10...but none r this good...these r very imaculate...this is what u get when u take this art form...n this culture...seriously!!!
    I'm interested in the Red Hanya, the Blue Hanya, n the small Hanya me at u!!!! Ojisan :-)

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  4. are any of these masks for sale? if so how much? they are a thing of beauty and im a collecter.

  5. Hi Anonymous. Yes the masks are for sale. many are sold but I have just finished a version of the red hanya for a client so more could be made anytime

  6. Hi, I am very interested in one of your masks. Could you email me with a price for one blue mask and delivery to Northern Ireland. Many Thanks!
    My email is

  7. I'm curious about the price of a regular hanya mask and the dimentions. Email address is
    Thsnk you
    Toby Romack

  8. Hi Jake - I'd always thought the tsunokakushi were a beautiful, elegant piece of apparel, but your explanation of the meaning tends to spoil that somewhat! - Jovan, Melbourne, Australia