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The Hannya Mask History

You might have seen our killer Hannya Print Shirt and Shorts co-ord that we released this summer (oh and the matching backpack!). This print was a first time for us and we love it, it features an all over Hannya mask with a chrysanthemum floral design on a navy blue background. This statement combo isn’t for the shy but you certainly won’t get lost in the crowd wearing it!


So where did the Hannya mask originate from? We’ve done a little digging to get some more info on the history of the Hannya mask and what it means…

The Hannya mask dates back to the 14th century where it first appeared in traditional Japanese theatres. The masks commonly represent a female anger which would arise when the character had been betrayed. Actors would wear the masks to help tell their stories because the expression of a Hannya mask would change from anger to sadness depending on the angle the mask is held at – pretty sweet right.

In Japanese, the word Hannya means ‘wisdom’ so the masks are also considered a symbol of good luck! And in traditional Japanese culture the Hannya symbol is used to scare and ward off evil spirits, bring protection and good luck to those that carry one.

Hannya in the tattoo world

It is from here that their popularity has grown within the tattoo world. Having a Hannya mask as a tattoo is a permanent and convenient way to bring luck and ward off the evil spirits (hopefully wearing it counts too!). It can also represent previous trauma that the owner has overcome, protecting them from further similar struggles. Getting a Hannya mask tattoo gives you the freedom to choose its expression, colours and background elements which further deepen the meaning.

The Hannya mask has become an incredibly popular design within all styles of tattooing due to its deep and meaningful history. They are an incredibly versatile design, working well in a range of styles, colours and placements and look pretty bloody awesome.

Do you have a Hannya mask tattoo? We would love to see them! Tag us on Instagram using the tag #badmondayart

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