Even though we still don’t know a whole lot about how the human body works, we’re still doing a lot better than we used to. Throughout history, in various cultures, humans have held some pretty weird claims about the human body.
Ancient Greeks speculated that female fetuses gestated in one side of the womb because the temperature was more suitable. I’m glad we’ve held on to a lot of Greek philosophy, but happier still that we’ve ditched their beliefs about biology.
And while not quite as weird as lefty-fetuses, I recently learned about a strange Japanese superstition about the human body. It’s called sanpaku (三白), and it will tell you your fate based on your eyes.
What is sanpaku? Literally translated, it means “three whites,” which refers to how you can divide up an eye into pieces, with the whites taking up three of the four segments. Sanpaku is when you can see the white of somebody’s eye either above or below the iris.
Normally, that’s a pretty unremarkable thing that you might not even be able to pick up on. But according to one Japanese superstition, sanpaku might be a good indicator of your fate.
This superstition really took off in the west during the 60s when Japanese author George Osawa began predicting the deaths of famous American figures (Marilyn Monroe, JFK) based on their eyes. Since then, people have speculated about the connection between sanpaku and one’s fate.
If you buy into the superstition, then it really depend whether the whites of the eye are visible above or below.
If you have white visible at the bottom of your eyes, then look out — the world is out to get you. This condition, supposedly means that you’re in danger from the outside world.
Don’t believe me? Just take a look at examples from a small sampling of celebrities!
Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson sports whites below his irises, and was recently jilted by his girlfriend and co-star, Kristen Stewart. JFK also had sanpaku at the bottom of his eyes and, well . . . let’s just say that Robert Pattinson got off easy.
Conversely, if you can see whites at the top of your eyes, then you might want to take a deep breath and calm down a bit. While whites below the eyes supposedly means that the outside world is a danger to you, above the eyes means that the inside world is a danger to you — i.e., you’re unable to control your emotions and it leads you to do terrible, terrible things.
Cult leader Charles Manson has sanpaku above his eyes, and I think that it’s safe to say that he does not exhibit the best self-control. (Although I suppose that it take incredible self-control to carve a swastika into your forehead.)
Skeptical? Understandable; after all, can’t your eyes look sanpaku depending on how you tilt your head or roll your eyes? It doesn’t help that this sort of fortune-telling seems to be more popular in the west than in its culture of origin.
Not to mention that people seem to disagree what sanpaku actually means — the symptoms I gave above are only a sampling of the alleged symptoms and results of sanpaku.
Regardless of its basis in fact, like horoscopes, blood types, and other superstitions, people still enjoy reading other’s fortunes. Next time you find yourself drifting while somebody is talking, gaze into their eyes and figure out if they’re destined for an early demise or a potential psychopath.
Thanks to David for emailing this in!
Header photo by jim simonson