[Painting of Death as a spectral nanny taking a child and infant away from their bereaved family.  A detail shows the family’s house number is 1918.]

I never realized this until seeing the detail, but this painting is most likely about the flu pandemic.

it’s really interesting seeing death portrayed as a woman 

Especially a a nurturer rather than a destroyer




Kuchisake-onna (“The Slit-Mouthed Woman”) is a figure in Japanese urban legends. She was allegedly mutilated by her husband and now returns as a violent spirit. Her mouth has been cut from ear to ear, and she often wears a surgical mask to cover her disfigurement. According to the legend, she approaches children walking alone and asks them, “Am I pretty?” If the child says no, the woman murders them with a pair of scissors, often cutting them clean in half. If the child says yes, Kuchisake-onna will pull away her mask and ask, “How about now?” If the child says no, they are brutally murdered. If the child still says yes, she cuts their mouth so that they have a slit to match hers. It is impossible to run from the Kuchisake-onna, as she can appear in front of the child no matter which way they turn. A way to confuse the spirit, when asked whether or not she is pretty, would be to reply, “You are average.” After this, she will be so confused as to give you some time to escape. Alternatively, you can simply tell her that you have a prior engagement; out of the spirit’s good manners, she will apologize and leave.

Rumors of alleged sightings started spreading around Nagasaki in 1979. This caused wide-spread panic throughout Japan, shutting down schools and leaving playgrounds abandoned. In South Korea in 2004, a woman was sighted wearing a red mask and chasing small children. In October of 2007, a coroner found old reports from the 1970s about a woman with a white surgical mask who chased little children. She was hit by a car and died shortly after. Her mouth was discovered to be ripped from ear to ear.

A Japanese movie based on the legend was released in 2007. The original title of the film was originally “Kuchisake-onna,” but now it has been changed to “Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman.” You can watch it here.

Sources: 1, 2, 3