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The Tattooed Priestess was a woman, chosen by the Kuze Family Head, to be the priestess at the Kuze Shrine. They were chosen because they themselves had experienced the pain of losing a loved one. They were confined to the shrine, and were not allowed to leave. They were visited by worshippers, whose pain was etched into the skin of the Priestess by Engravers in the form of the Snake & Holly Tattoo by using Ink of the Soul. This was to stop sorrow from spilling into the dreams of the living. The role of the tattooed priestess is noted as being more similar to that of a shaman than a spirit medium; rather than temporarily accepting a divine spirit, she became permanently inhabited by the pain that was offered to her.
Maidens were young women who, like the living people they served, had experienced the pain of losing a loved one tragically, and had no living relatives. They would then be adopted into the Kuze Family and received the Kuze surname. The maiden would then serve as a shrine maiden at the shrine in preparation for her ultimate sacrifice.
The Priestess had to meditate with the mirror. The idea was that the Priestess would concentrate by putting all of her love, pain, and sadness into the mirror and then shattering it; symbolically ridding herself of all earthly connections, much like the Rope Shrine Maiden of the first Fatal Frame. A Priestess had to be cleansed of all ties to the living in order to gain the purifying power needed for the ritual to work.
The Piercing of the Soul
The Engravers tattoo the Priestess with the Snake & Holly Tattoo pattern to symbolize the pain of loss. The Engravers spend a great deal of time preparing for this rite by piercing their own arms with the tattoo needles and gathering Ink of the Soul from both corpses and live victims.
The Rite of Commandment
The Priestess must meditate with the Mirror of Loss in order for her to separate herself from her emotions and earthly ties. By shattering the Mirror at the end of the Rite, she casts out her emotions in order to be completely cleansed.
The Impalement Ritual
The four Pacifiers, or Handmaidens, impale the Priestess's hands and feet with stone stakes so that she does not wander during her sleep. While they impale the Priestess in the Chamber of Thorns, the four pacifiers sing the Handmaiden's Song to help calm the Priestess and they pray for her to dream eternally.
If the Priestess fails - either by succumbing to the pain, regretting her actions, or otherwise failing to sleep peacefully - she is subject to the Tearing. The Priestess is stripped of her sacred tattoos by being skinned. The body is sent to the Other Side in a boat while her skin is enshrined in the Tattoo Altar. The handmaidens sing the Handmaiden's Song to the enshrined skin so that the pain of the tattoo may not leave the skin.
Failed priestesses, those who could not 'sleep peacefully', were skinned. The skin was then displayed in the Tattoo Altar, and prayed and sung to by Handmaidens, to stop the pain engraved within from escaping.
Known Tattooed Priestesses
- Reika Kuze
- Unengraved Woman, an intended Priestess, who only appears as a hidden ghost in the Wooden Figure Room. Apparently, as she was about to be tattooed, the Engraver disclosed her unrequited love.
- The Tattooed Priestesses in the Chamber of Thorns could be seen in the background in initially released game trailers where Rei is being impaled by four handmaidens.
- There are similarities to the tattooed priestess character & characters portrayed in Junji Ito's Lovesick Dead (manga & film).
- ↑ "Yuu's Notes 2", Zero Shisei no Koe Complete Official Capture Book
- ↑ Asou, Y. & Amakura, K., (1988) "Yuu's Notes"