Hannya Mask Tattoo

60+ Hannya Mask Tattoos: History, Meanings & Tattoo Designs

Hannya Mask Tattoos

If you’re looking to get some new ink that makes a statement, the Hannya mask tattoo might be for you.

Ask yourself – are you looking for something that conveys power and good luck, translates resiliency, and is full of character?

The Hannya mask tattoo does all this and more.

As one of the staples in ancient Japanese mythology and an immensely popular tattoo style, these artful designs are as beautiful as they are intimidating.

For those of us who already have a Japanese tattoo, we can stand testament to the fact that they convey a sense of power, intensity, and wisdom.

With rich, haunting history and symbolism attached to the Hannya masks and these Japanese tattoos, it is surely a design that you will grow enamored with.

If you are interested in getting one of these beautiful designs and want to learn more about them, keep reading ahead.

Hannya Mask: A brief History

Let’s take a short trip through history – going back to the 14th century, Japan had a form of traditional musical theater known as ‘Noh theater.’

Wearing beautiful, detailed masks, the Noh theater actors would tell tales of loss, sorrow, and betrayal.

The Hannya masks that they wore were a focal point of their performances, and they continue to capture our attention the same way today.

One of the most well-known Noh theater plays featured a prince, a princess, and the prince’s mistress.

Already, you can tell this is a story that’s full of emotions.

Within this play, there was Prince Genji, a man of great power.

His wife went by the name Lady Aoi.

Though they were married, Prince Genji had a mistress by the name of Lady Rokujo.

Prince Genji’s affections for Lady Rokujo were clear, but one day, he began to ignore her.

The reason for this was that his wife, Lady Aoi, was now pregnant.

As he no longer came to visit her and had essentially cut off their relations, Lady Rokujo’s betrayal and jealousy were left to fester, and she was driven to madness so intense and consuming that she was transformed into a demon.

This demon then possessed and killed Lady Aoi, leaving Prince Genji on his own.

It’s quite the story, isn’t it?

Hannya Mask Tattoo Meanings

There are many meanings that can be assigned to the Hannya mask tattoos.

These Japanese tattoos take the form of a female demon.

Hannya Mask tattoos are known to symbolize anger, fear, betrayal, and strength.

However, as the masks are versatile and can be seen as either angry or sad depending on the way they are positioned, there are some other meanings to be assigned to them as well.

These alternate meanings are of mourning, heartbreak, and though it might be surprising on the surface, wisdom.

According to Japanese Buddhism, ‘Hannya’ means ‘wisdom,’ and refers to higher levels of consciousness.

It’s important to note that today, the Hannya mask tattoo is seen as a symbol of good luck and a means of warding off evil.

Main Themes in Hannya Mask Tattoos

It’s no secret that Japanese imagery is a popular element that many people look for in their tattoos.

With the Hannya mask tattoos, there is a clear history attached to them.

Thinking back to the story of Lady Rokujo that was just outlined, there’s both anger and betrayal associated with the demonic masks, as well as an intense sadness and a sense of tragedy.

Some main themes in Hannya mask tattoos are betrayal and jealousy, which can be a result of suffering infidelity.

Traditionally, these themes are believed to be feminine, as the female demon that Lady Rokujo turned into was a result of the woman being betrayed.

There is also the theme of good luck, as these masks are believed to drive away bad energy and evil spirits.

It is believed that they protect their owners from misfortunes whilst instead attracting positive energy.

Similar to good luck is the theme of wisdom.

Hannya mask tattoos are believed to grant their owners a different, higher perspective that can allow for the individual to thrive.

For those of us who have overcome struggles and emerged stronger, the Hannya mask tattoo can encompass this growth well.

They are symbolic of struggles in the past that were overcome, and again, are believed to protect their wearers from revisiting troubling times.

Black & Grey Hannya Mask Tattoos

While bold colors are common when it comes to the Hannya mask tattoos, don’t underestimate the power and intimidation they can convey in black and grey ink.

Using this tattoo style, they can illustrate something more haunting, or, if you are looking for your tattoo design to relate more to the themes of good luck, wisdom, and strength, black and grey can be the perfect choice to show a sense of calmness and acceptance.

Black and Grey Hannya Mask Tattoo
Black and Grey Hannya Mask Tattoo
Black and Grey Hannya Mask Tattoo

Oni Mask vs. Hannya Mask Tattoos

Oni masks and Hannya masks are often mistaken for one another, and while they are related, there is a distinct difference that you should keep an eye out for.

According to the Buddhist religion, Oni are understood to be male demons; born from the souls of evil, sadistic men, they are reincarnated as Oni and are viewed as evil incarnate.

They reside in Hell and are the bringers of pain and suffering to many.

Some beliefs even suggest that living men can become Oni if they are evil enough in their mortal form, and it is these Oni that brings about great suffering and loss in the human world.

Hannya masks, on the other hand, are a type of feminine demon and are extremely versatile.

They can represent many things, from jealousy and insanity to symbols of wisdom and a higher level of consciousness.

The common symbolism of Hannya mask tattoos is very different from that of the Oni, with Hannya masks most popularly being associated with protective talismans and good luck.

While different from one another, some tattoo designs incorporate both Hannya masks and Oni mask tattoos to include both the feminine and masculine spirits respectively.

Geisha & Hannya Mask Tattoos

Depending on what you want your tattoo to convey, it is known for people to adorn their Hannya tattoos with other characteristics and elements.

One popular choice is to get a Geisha tattoo alongside the Hannya mask.

As geisha tattoos are representative of feminine energy, they can be paired with the Hannya tattoo to convey emotional complexity and intrigue.

Geisha and Hannya Mask Tattoo
Geisha and Hannya Mask Tattoo

Hannya Mask and Japanese Snake Tattoos

Like the Geisha, Japanese snake tattoos are also popular choices of adornment to add more character or story to your tattoo.

Japanese snake tattoos are said to be symbolic of good luck and even immortality – alongside the Hannya mask, this addition could represent undying emotions or even act as a talisman to attract wisdom and good fortunes.

Hannya Mask and Japanese Snake Tattoo

Japanese Traditional Hannya Mask Tattoos

There are many different tattoo styles to get your Hannya mask tattoo in.

A popular choice is the Japanese traditional style, also called tebori, which will allow for your Hannya mask tattoo to achieve a timeless look.

Some benefits of this tattoo style include the traditional cultural significance and detailed, intricate linework.

If you want your tattoo to look like it has come from the Noh theatre itself, this is the style for you.

Japanese Traditional Hannya Mask Tattoo
Japanese Traditional Hannya Mask Tattoo
Japanese Traditional Hannya Mask Tattoo

Neo-Japanese Hannya Mask Tattoos

There’s so much that can make a tattoo unique, but to use Neo-Japanese styles for the Hannya mask tattoo can mean that your tattoo will be in a league of its own.

Neo-Japanese tattoo styles incorporate traditional elements with more modern references to things like pop culture and art movements from the past, as well as the individualistic styles of your tattoo artist to create something with all the best qualities.

Neo-Japanese Hannya Mask Tattoo
Neo-Japanese Hannya Mask Tattoo
Neo-Japanese Hannya Mask Tattoo
Neo-Japanese Hannya Mask Tattoo

Hannya Mask Tattoo Sleeve

To create a sleeve of your Hannya mask tattoo can be to make a bold and beautiful statement.

Japanese sleeve tattoos can be whatever you want to make of them and hold so much potential depending on what styles and color palettes you choose.

Popular choices with Hannya mask tattoos can be to dedicate the arm to Japanese tattoo styles, which as we have discussed, are immersed with rich history and intriguing symbolism.

Some people choose to center their Hannya mask tattoo as the focal point of their sleeve, while others place the mask on the upper arm to tell a story much like in the Noh theaters.

No matter where in your sleeve you place the mask, the Japanese tattoo holds so much potential.

With the right Japanese-style tattoo artist, you can make it exactly what you want.

Hannya Mask Tattoo Sleeve
Hannya Mask Tattoo Sleeve
Hannya Mask Tattoo Sleeve
Hannya Mask Tattoo Sleeve
Hannya Mask Tattoo Sleeve

Tattoo Placement

Different body placements hold different benefits.

The Hannya mask tattoo is a tattoo that is versatile and can accentuate virtually any space.

Regardless of gender or the size that you desire, they will add to (or start!) a collection of ink that you will be proud of.

  • Hannya Mask Chest Tattoos

Chest tattoos are perfect for people who are looking to work big.

As it allows for a lot of room, this also means there can be a lot of detail.

Hannya mask tattoos, while bold and containing solid colors, are also known for their intricate details and line works.

A Hannya mask tattoo centered in the chest can be the statement piece you are looking for and depending on the meaning you want to assign to it, can be symbolic of something very powerful.

Hannya Mask Chest Tattoo
Hannya Mask Chest Tattoo
Hannya Mask Chest Tattoo
  • Hannya Mask Leg Tattoos

Like the chest and sleeve tattoos, leg tattoos can also allow for a lot of space.

Some people tend to choose just one portion of the leg for their tattoo, like the ankle, calf, thigh, or hip.

Others gravitate to using the full limb.

While standalone pieces are most definitely beautiful and attention-grabbing on their own, one benefit of using the full leg is that there is the opportunity to tell a story with the limb.

Hannya mask tattoos can be adorned with various other elements like Japanese lettering, snake tattoos, or Geishas.

Depending on what you choose, there are many possibilities of what you can convey.

Think about the elements and tattoo themes we mentioned earlier – good luck, wisdom, overcoming hard times, or even things like anger and protection from misfortune.

If you want to use the full leg, it could be helpful to think of what type of story you might want to tell.

Hannya Mask Leg Tattoo
Hannya Mask Leg Tattoo

Hannya Mask Tattoo Designs

There are many different designs to choose from when it comes to the Hannya mask tattoo.

So far, we have mentioned tattoo styles such as the Neo-Japanese tattoo style and traditional Japanese style which both have some staple designs.

Other tattoo styles can include black-work tattoo, minimalist, and so many more.

No matter which style you choose, your Hannya mask tattoo design will look stunning.

Some things to keep in mind when choosing your tattoo design can be things like color and linework – do you want something that is bolder and demanding to the eye?

Or are you searching for something subtle, with delicate line work?

Solid and bright colors can illustrate intense emotions and the strength of the human spirit, whilst many details can show the intricacy and complexity of your thoughts and experiences.

Further, adding elements like the geisha or even snakes and tiger tattoos, all three of which are popular choices, can help you to tell a specific story that is unique to you.

Talking to your tattoo artist can help to hone in on exactly the perfect Hannya mask tattoo for you.

Hannya Mask Tattoo
Hannya Mask Tattoo
Hannya Mask Tattoo
Hannya Mask Tattoo
Hannya Mask Tattoo
Hannya Mask Tattoo
Hannya Mask Tattoo
Hannya Mask Tattoo
Hannya Mask Tattoo
Hannya Mask Tattoo
Hannya Mask Tattoo
Hannya Mask Tattoo
Hannya Mask Tattoo


Hannya mask tattoos contain rich history and symbolism that can be both haunting and beautiful.

With themes like good luck, wisdom that is associated with a higher level of consciousness, and the resilience of the human spirit to overcome loss, betrayal, and hard times, these Japanese tattoos are perfect for people who want their body art to tell a story.

The Hannya mask tattoo designs themselves are beautiful, and they hold a world of potential that is sure to impress you and the people who will get to admire it.

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