Shinshu HORIEI
信州 彫英 “龍”



In ancient China, the dragon was one of the most auspicious beasts that was thought to be the principle being in the animal kingdom. It is said to have the ability to travel between heaven and earth, to store water and make it rain, and was also used as a symbol of kingship. When it was introduced to Japan, it lost its connection with the royal family, but its association with being the god of water is still strongly reflected in the Japanese interpretation of its character and thought to bring wealth and blessings to agrarian people. Also the dragon is commonly known as the embodiment of fierceness and the severity of nature.


This back-piece depicts a frontal dragon combined with a Hannya mask. Its body and legs are not only placed on the back but also wrapped around the flanks of both sides of the body in this unconventional and bold composition.


The Hannya mask is a Noh mask that represents a woman who has become a demoness due to jealousy and resentment. Originally the word of “Hannya” was a Buddist term meaning “wisdom”, but the original term has very little to do with this daunting mask. There’re several theories as to why this demoness mask was called Hannya, but it’s not known for certain. It is thought that the masks angry and frightening expression has the power to exorcise evil.

※信州 彫英氏のインタビュー記事はこちら
※See Shinshu Horiei’s interview here

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