This Hunger Shall Not Be Satisfied (Futakuchi-Onna)

This Hunger Shall Not Be Satisfied (Futakuchi-Onna) cut paper art by Patrick Gannonsize: 8 1/2 x 15 inches
medium: cut paper on wood
private collection

Kechi (けち) is one of the most useful Japanese words you’re ever likely to find. It means cheap or stingy, but isn’t limited to just money. It expands to include emotion, time, and helpfulness among others.

Futakuchi-onna (two-mouthed woman) is all about the kechi. In one tale, faced with a food shortage, she stuffs her own child while letting her stepchild waste away. In another, she withholds food from herself, trying to please either her miserly husband or her own stinginess. Self-denial manifests as a separate ravenous mouth on the back of her head, grumbling and mumbling and, finally, satisfying itself.

It’s difficult not to associate the Futakuchi-onna with modern eating disorders and standards of beauty. Hunger-abstained bursts out from the flesh gibbering and gnawing – a metaphor for either the cause or the disease. All grabbing tentacles and unthinking appetite, the jellyfish seemed the perfect choice for the zoological avatar.

Details:
This Hunger Shall Not Be Satisfied (Futakuchi-Onna) cut paper art by Patrick Gannon

This Hunger Shall Not Be Satisfied (Futakuchi-Onna) cut paper art by Patrick Gannon

6 comments

  1. kasikasi’s avatar

    This cut out is amazing, such a attention to detais. All colours work very well together too. :)

  2. Isabelle’s avatar

    Soooo beautiful… such details and precision… love your illustration! The grain of the wood is amazing as her skin.Beautiful work.

    Thank you for sharing this information on this Japanese words. Very interesting and mysterious at the same time :) I love illustration Friday when it gives me the chance to discover amazing artists… like you.

  3. Katrina Lamet’s avatar

    Wow. Your work is just completely amazing. Please, never stop creating.

  4. Staceybabe1@hotmail.com’s avatar

    Beautiful as always. I think you did a great job in creating a different impression from what might be the obvious connotations of the word. I love your use of wood also, it really compliments the paper cuts.

    Happy Holidays.

    Stacey

  5. maqui’s avatar

    The version I am familiar with is that a penny pinching man found an ideal wife who said she did not need to eat, only to find that she had another hidden mouth. Another version is that a mother-in-law was too “Kechi.”
    Considering such folktales were told maily by mother to her children, I can see another aspect for Futakuchi-onna, retaliation.

    Rest assured, as I know your wife, who kindly let me know this website with many stimulating entries, does not has any hidden mouth.
    I would very much like to have an opportunity to see your artworks with my own eyes!

    1. Patrick’s avatar

      Maqui – Thanks for your comment! One of the things I like most about folktales and yokai is that they all have a number of stories and interpretations. I really like your thought re: retaliation. I hadn’t considered that, and it adds a whole other layer of possible meaning to the art. As for my wife, she is a sweetheart, and her unhidden mouth is strong enough that she doesn’t need a hidden one.

      I don’t have any plans for a show in Japan soon (though there is at least one coming later this year in Tokyo). I’m looking at galleries in Fukuoka now. If you’re ever around, my wife and I would be happy to give you a special showing.

      Thanks again, and welcome to PaperCuts!

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