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 1965 Ohsawa, assisted by William Dufty, wrote You Are All Sanpaku which gave this perspective on the condition:
- For thousands of years, people of the Far East have been looking into each other's eyes for signs of this dreaded condition. Any sign of sanpaku meant that a man's entire system — physical, physiological and spiritual — was out of balance. He had committed sins against the order of the universe and he was therefore sick, unhappy, insane, what the West has come to call "accident prone". The condition of sanpaku is a warning, a sign from nature, that one's life is threatened by an early and tragic end.
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
- Senpaku Eyes BBC News
- Tom Wolfe (18 August 1963) "Kennnedy to Bardot, Too Much Sanpaku", New York Herald Tribune
- Kushi, Michio and Jack, Alex. The Book of Macrobiotics: The Universal Way of Health, Happiness, and Peace. Oxford University Press US, 1987, p. 295
- Nyoiti Sakurazawa, William Dufty translator (1965) You Are All Sanpaku, page 70, Citadel Press ISBN 0-8065-0728-4
- Blymyer, Ginger Sugar. Hairdresser to the Stars: A Hollywood Memoir Infinity Publishing (PA), 2002, p. 277
- Entertainment Weekly #1023 November 28, 2008
- Neuromancer, novel by William Gibson (the main character describes Linda as being "sanpaku")