When Orochimaru gives “the gift” of a curse mark to Sasuke it enhances his strength and abilities, but those enhancements come at a cost. So what exactly is the curse mark on Sasuke, and what does it mean? Continue reading to find out the answer.
The curse mark on Sasuke is named the Cursed Seal of Heaven, seen on those who are most strongly attuned to the spiritual world, it represents one of the most powerful Orochimaru curses. A symbol consisting of three domoe; the curse mark represents the relationship between heaven, earth, and man.
The origin of the curse mark came from a Shinobi who wished to be cured of his incessant rages. Instead, Orochimaru found a way to channel this power to fuel his own strength. The origin of the symbol is bathed in Japanese culture and Shinto traditions; its meaning is poignant to Sasuke’s journey.
Whether the curse mark controls Shinobi or Shinobi controls the curse mark is a matter of some debate, but can he truly be free with the essence of Orochimaru embedded within him? Read on to find out the origin of the curse mark: both how it came to be and why Sasuke was branded. And find out how Sasuke controls and is ultimately freed from this mark.
What Is The Curse Mark On Sasuke?
The Cursed Seal of Heaven originates from Jugo, a Shinobi who sought out Orochimaru in the hope that he could cure Jugo of his incessant rages. But Orochimaru was astounded by the way that Jugo was able to absorb natural energy to gain strength. Undeterred by the toll this process took on Jugo’s mental state, Orochimaru went about seeking a way to harness this power, extracting enzymes from Jugo’s blood and combining them with his own Senjutsu Chakra. Thus, the curses were created.
As Orochimaru was unable to achieve Sage mode through his discovery, he found another way to utilize the Senjutsu Chakra: brand other people to become his vessels. By branding a follower with a curse mark, Orochimaru was able to increase his powers whilst using their bodies as vessels, through which, he could gain insight and knowledge.
Orochimaru chooses his strongest followers or people he would like to use as host bodies to brand. The Cursed Seal of Heaven represents one of Orochimaru’s strongest cursed seals. Applied during the Chunin exams; Orochimaru infiltrated the Forest of Death to place the curse mark on the back left side of Sasuke’s neck.
Orochimaru was aware of the revenge that Sasuke yearned to exude on his brother. He exploited and took advantage of this dark desire, by offering the mark as a “gift” to accelerate Sasuke’s strength and power. What he hoped was that the brand would diminish Sasuke’s mind, allowing Orochimaru to use his body as his next vessel.
Though it is forbidden for Orochimaru to use this technique, he still chooses to brand Sasuke with a bite from his fangs. The curse mark represents a source of great power, but one that comes at a cost. It is up to the marked individual, in this case, Sasuke, to choose how to use that power.
That summarizes what the curse mark is, but what does it mean?
What Does The Curse Mark On Sasuke Mean?
The design of the curse mark is known as mitsudomoe. Translated as: “mitsu” three and “domoe” comma-like, the emblem consists of three of these comma-like marks in a circle. The Japanese believe that a tomoe is a seed of life, which holds the spirits of the dead and gives the owner their power. It is a common design seen on Japanese family crests and roof tiles of traditional homes.
The tomoe itself is an ancient symbol originating in magatama. What these symbols originally represented is unconfirmed with suggestions ranging from the shape of the soul to an animal tooth or the moon. The mitsudomoe is often used to represent the relationship between the cosmic forces that make up our universe: heaven, earth, and the underworld, or, heaven, earth, and man.
The design later came to be a symbol of Hachiman, the Shinto God of war, leading many people to view the symbol as one representing strength and courage. The fact that there are three tomoe is also significant as three is a sacred number across many worldwide religions and cultures.
In the context of Naruto, Sasuke being marked with The Cursed Seal of Heaven represents the relationship of different beings merging their powers. There are elements of three beings, Jugo, Orochimaru, and Sasuke working together within one vessel. The three domoe could also represent the bond between Sasuke, the spiritual world and his external environment, or, heaven, earth, and man. The mitsudomoe symbolizes strength, and how, if strength is misused it can be a dark force leading to war.
The meaning of the Cursed Seal of Heaven is a complex and poignant one; its powers are even more so. The mark could be deemed a blessing or a curse, but an individual could not be considered free, whilst they were still branded. How does Sasuke free himself of the curse mark? Read on to find out.
How Does Sasuke Get Rid Of The Curse Mark?
Sasuke has his curse mark removed when he confronts and enters into battle with his brother Itachi. After employing the techniques of The Great Fireball – whereby both brothers knead the chakra energy inside themselves to deploy fireballs – Sasuke gains the upper hand until Itachi releases Amaterasu, the highest level of fire release, immediately distinguishing Sasuke’s fireball.
As Itachi prepares to rip out Sasuke’s eyes he realizes that Sasuke’s body is just a shell. Sasuke has dropped to the next level, where he uses the Great Dragon Fire to create a dragon-headed fireball, which he launches at Itachi. Thunder clouds are created, through these fireballs, leaving Sasuke to enter into his third attack, Kirin. Using Kirin, Sasuke separates the clouds and harnesses the power of lightning, combining it with his chakras to strike effectively. Itachi manages to survive these attacks, and, at this point Sasuke’s strength is diminished, meaning he can no longer hold Orochimaru inside.
As Itachi reveals his third technique Susanoo, a giant avatar emerges to fight for him, pulling out the Sword of Totsuka. This ethereal sword consists of a liquified structure held in a sake jar. Once stabbed by the sword, the victim is drawn into the sake jar where it is held in a drunken stupor. As Itachi draws the sword, snakes appear from Sasuke, an attempt by Orochimaru to employ the eight branches technique, but Itachi stabs the blade through Orochimaru thus capturing and imprisoning him.
During this process, the brand is removed entirely from Sasuke freeing him from the power it exerted over him. Sasuke’s curse mark is gone, but did he want it removed? Whilst it increased his strength and performance, it enhanced his dark energy leading to anger fuelled attacks. Did Sasuke want to be free from the curse mark?
Does Sasuke Control The Curse Mark?
Upon first receiving a curse marker, the bearer is unable to control their access to it, therefore summoning its powers unwittingly. Once they become accustomed to the workings of the mark, they experience intense physical pain when they utilize its powers, however these can be briefly ignored as their chakras increase.
Sasuke can utilize the curse mark to strengthen his powers, but in contrast to his marked predecessors, Sasuke also has the ability to resist it. He is the only person who can do this.
When Orochimaru takes Sasuke to another dimension, he intends it to be the place for them to body swap. Instead, Sasuke overpowers Orochimaru with his Sharingan, and rather than receiving Sasuke’s body, Orochimaru is absorbed into it.
Whilst Sasuke regains control of his own mind and body, the curse mark enhances the darkness within him, fuelling his hatred and anger.
In some ways Sasuke has a high level of control over the curse mark: he is the only one able to resist Orochimaru and continue to fight his own battles. In contrast, the curse mark controls Sasuke because it accentuates only one aspect of his mind, enhancing his negative energy and altering his mental state. The curse mark brings out the evil in people. Sasuke could control his mark, but he was never really free until Itachi removed it.
Sasuke’s control over his curse mark is debatable, but the strength of the curse mark is not. Why is the Cursed Seal of Earth deemed one of the strongest?
How Strong Is Sasuke’s Curse Mark?
Sasuke’s Curse Mark is one of the strongest of Orochimaru’s curses, its only counterpart being the Cursed Seal of Earth. Where the Cursed Seal of Earth is seen in those most closely attuned to the earth, the Cursed Seal of Heaven is seen in those most closely attuned to the spiritual world. The mark is so strong that when Sasuke obtains access to its second level, his level of power aligns with that of the one-tailed form of Naruto.
The curse mark works by drawing on the bearer’s chakra and combining it with elements of the external world. This energy transfers through the consciousness contained within the mark, therefore creating hugely enhanced strength and abilities.
The strength of the curse mark is demonstrated firstly: only one in ten people survive being branded with a curse marker. It is only the most powerful ninjas who can absorb this level of chakra.
Secondly, even if a ninja survives the branding, they will most likely lose their mind and free will.
The Sound Four were Orochimaru’s strongest bodyguards. Even they could not avoid losing their free will. By maintaining control over the curse mark, Sasuke demonstrated an immense level of strength.