The Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth is based on Tenome, a Japanese urban legend about the ghost of a blind man who has eyes on the palms of his hands. “Te-no-me” means “eyes on hands”.
There was a blind old man who was attacked by robbers. They beat him viciously and left him to die alone in a field. As he lay dying, the blind man cried out in anger and frustration, “If only I had seen their faces! But my eyes can’t see! If only I had eyes on the palms of my hands!”
Because he died in such a state of rage and agony, the blind man returned as a ghost named Tenome. His desire for revenge was so great that his blind eyes were gone and he grew a new pair eyes on the palms of his hands.
Now Tenome roams through cities and villages, searching for the robbers who murdered him. He is able to see by holding his hands out in front of him. But Tenome never saw the face of his attacker, so he simply kills whoever he can get his hands on. Although he has eyes in his hands, he is still figuratively blinded by his anger.
One night, a Japanese boy was dared by his friends to go into a graveyard and test his courage. As the boy walked through the cemetery, he suddenly saw an old man emerge from the darkness. As the figure got closer, he noticed that the old man was blind and had eyeballs on the palms of his hands.
The terrified boy fled as fast as he could. He ran into a temple and begged the priest to help him. The priest told him to hide in a chest and then went off to hide himself.
When Tenome entered the temple, he wandered around with his hands held out in front of him, searching for his prey. The boy crouched inside the chest, not daring to breathe as he listened to the sound of footsteps coming closer and closer to his hiding place. The footsteps stopped right next him and he heard a strange sucking sound. Slurp! Slurp! Slurp!
In the morning, the priest came out of hiding. He opened the chest to let the boy out, but when he peered inside, he was horrified. The young man was dead. Tenome had sucked all the blood and bones out of the boy’s body, leaving nothing behind but his limp, saggy skin.