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Art of Wear 6: One Ring to Rule Them All

Pre-order for the Hannya Ring is now open

If there’s one thing that fuels my imagination, it’s emotion. This creative inspiration often takes the form of things like music, art, and literature, but the common thread is that it impacts me on an emotional level. In short, I am inspired by things that make me feel.

The Hannya is no exception. The allure of the hannya is in the nuances of its personality. It represents a woman whose jealousy and rage (and agony and sadness and...insert-other-pain-related-emotions-here) have transformed her into a demon. Rather than being a purely evil or malevolent demon, the Hannya is a maelstrom of powerful negative emotions. It is simultaneously self-destructive and vindictive.

The Hannya is most closely associated with traditional Japanese Noh theater, which features actors in simple (okay...and somewhat creepy) wooden masks. The most striking part of the Hannya is that the mask itself does not move, but is meant to convey different emotions based on the angle it is viewed from. A subtle head tilt allows the Hannya’s facial expression to flicker between anguish, grief, and fury in a way that is as beautiful as it is haunting.

hannya mask

This design has personal significance because it represents various facets of my own identity; it symbolizes my cultural heritage as a Japanese-American, my academic interests as an Asian Studies scholar, and my background in psychology, which has given me a deep appreciation for the complexities of the human experience. The Hannya appeals to me because delves into the darker side of human emotion in a way that embraces the pain and fury of the woman-turned-demon. It is both an acknowledgement and an acceptance of the shadows that reside in all of us. This made the Hannya a natural choice for my first unisex design


Despite the personal significance, I was initially hesitant to create a Hannya piece because it feels a little too..."trendy." Due to the general bad-assery of its appearance, the hannya has become a popular motif--especially in tattoo culture and irezumi art. Inevitably, the enthusiasm for the Hannya’s fierce look often overshadows its actual meaning, which is why I felt it was necessary to give a bit of background on this piece. It’s so much more than a cool looking demon head with a crazy facial expression.

Well, now you know.


The Hannya Ring is now available for pre-order throughout the month of February.

See all Hannya pieces here.

hannya ringhannya necklace pendant