Khoa had originally posted this picture as Photo #62 of his 365 photos in 365 days challenge, but I thought this 般若(hannya) mask warranted further explanation.
At first glance, I thought it looked sinister, but after researching about the origin and taking a closer look at the complex facial features, I came to see more than just an evil face.
Traditionally worn by Japanese Noh Theatre actors, the hannya mask represents a woman, so consumed with jealousy and obsession that she has turned into a demon. The grotesque contortion of the face and menacing grin, coupled with two oversized, sadden eyes creates a very emotional image. The wisps of disheveled hair and wrinkled face combine to portray a passionate, if not disorderly feel.
Like with many things, the history behind an object reveals a much deeper and thoughtful meaning or purpose. The hannya mask, used to portray the tormented characters of Noh Theatre, is one of these objects.