Sanpaku gan (三白眼?) or Sanpaku (三白?) is a Japanese term means “three whites” originated from a Chinese term. It is generally referred to in English as "sanpaku eyes" and refers to eyes in which the white space above or below the iris is visible.
Myths and history
According to Chinese myth, when the bottom of the white part of the eye, known as the sclera, is visible it represents physical imbalance in the body and is claimed to be present in alcoholics, drug addicts and people who over-consume sugar or grain. Conversely, when the upper sclera is visible it is said to be an indication of mental imbalance in people such as psychotics, murderers, and anyone rageful. Stress and fatigue may also be a cause.
In August 1963, macrobiotic pioneer George Ohsawa predicted that President John F. Kennedy would experience great danger because of his sanpaku condition. This was reported by Tom Wolfe in the New York Herald Tribune.
In popular culture
John Lennon mentioned sanpaku in his song "Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)" from the 1973 Mind Games album. It is also briefly referenced in William Gibson's Neuromancer, as well as in Michael Franks' 1979 song "Sanpaku". The Firesign Theatre's piece "Temporarily Humboldt County" mentions a character named "Sam Paku".
Notable people with sanpaku
- James Dean
- John F. Kennedy
- Sal Mineo
- Marilyn Monroe
- Robert Pattinson
- Sylvester Stallone
- Natalie Wood
- Darren Wilson (police officer)
- Senpaku Eyes BBC News
- Kushi, Michio and Jack, Alex. The Book of Macrobiotics: The Universal Way of Health, Happiness, and Peace. Oxford University Press US, 1987, p. 295
- Blymyer, Ginger Sugar. Hairdresser to the Stars: A Hollywood Memoir Infinity Publishing (PA), 2002, p. 277
- Entertainment Weekly #1023 November 28, 2008