One night, a Shinto priest at Kibune Shrine (North Kyoto) receives a divine revelation in a dream: that he should pass a message to a woman from Kyoto who would come to the shrine to perform a cursing ritual in the hour of the Ox (around 2 a.m.). The woman soon appears - she is furious at her ex-husband for abandoning her and taking a new wife. The priest relays to her the divine message: if she puts on a red dress, paints her face red, puts the iron trivet from the fireplace on her head like a crown and places three burning candles on its legs, she will be transformed into a vengeful demon.
Upon hearing this, the woman's face changes and her hair stands on end. She leaves the shrine, gradually transforming into a vengeful demon.
Meanwhile, the woman's ex-husband has been having nightmares and has decided to ask the famous yin-yang sorcerer Abe-no-Seimei for help. Seimei divines that the nightmares are due to his ex-wife's vengeful heart, and forewarns him that he might lose his life tonight. Upon the ex-husband's request, Seimei erects a special altar and starts praying to the deities.
As Seimei is praying, a rainstorm starts raging, thunder rolls and the ground starts rumbling. The abandoned woman's ghost finally appears.
Following the divine instructions, she has transformed into a vengeful demon. She laments her grudge and tries to take the lives of her ex-husband and his new wife. However, the deities called upon by Seimei attack the demon. She eventually loses her strength and retreats for the time being.
This Noh play focuses on the extreme jealousy and resentment of an abandoned woman that have caused her to transform into a vengeful demon. Jealous women performing the ritual of the "Hour of the Ox Curse" (a cursing ritual performed around 2 a.m. which involves driving nails into a straw doll resembling the object of resentment) in Kibune Shrine, can be seen in chapter 11 of the classic "The Tale of the Heike". The trivet that the play is named after plays the role of a divine object that can transform a person into a demon. However, in reality a trivet is simply an iron tripod used as a stand for pots in the fireplace.
In contrast to its everyday use, in the play the trivet is supposed to be turned upside-down and worn on the head like a crown with a candle lit on each of its legs. In this way it can transform a grudge-bearing person into a demon. During the first act, as soon as the woman hears the divine message from the priest, her physical appearance changes. This scene is one of the highlights of the play.
In the second half of the play, the yin-yang sorcerer (a diviner that calculates calendars or performs rituals based on the doctrine of yin-yang and the Five Elements) Abe-no-Seimei plays a key role.
Seimei is a real person who lived in 10c., famous for being the protagonist of many legends and tales such as "Konjaku Monogatarishū" (Anthology of Tales from the Past), in which he exorcises vengeful ghosts and spirits. In "Kanawa", Seimei erects a special altar to serve as the tool of his exorcising ritual. Upon the altar, he places an ‘eboshi’ hat and a wig - objects that represent the newlywed husband and wife. Deceived by Seimei, the she-demon mistakes these objects for the real husband and wife, and pours her wrath and resentment upon them.