Kitsune The Fox, Disguised As A Priest

Fox (Kitsune) Disguised As A Priest

This little fellow queued up for a photo this morning. About 4-1/2″ high, he is carved from boxwood and adorned with mother-of-pearl eyes and a retractable ivory tongue. Jim’s note on the 1996 purchase receipt says he’s a “fox priest.” Ah, yes — the bushy tail!

So what’s this about?

His straw hat and robe are full of holes — so, a mendicant. His jar is carved with the character “eight” and his papers with a character that might mean “understanding.”* So, perhaps he’s preaching The Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism.

But a fox? With a clattering tongue and wild eyes?

In Japanese lore, the fox (kitune) can be a shape-shifter, often taking the guise of a priest or monk. If he gets drunk or careless, his tail shows and gives him away.

Maybe a commentary on false preachers? I wonder…

*Good use for my Pleco (Optical Character Recognition) Chinese Dictionary iPhone app.

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One Response to Kitsune The Fox, Disguised As A Priest

  1. Pat says:

    Interesting! Our outward appearance does change when we lose control, get drunk or careless. And although we may be in denial, our false eyes, our foolish tongue, and an obviously bushy tail, would give us away every time. How true-how true. (His tail sounds like our Pinochio’s nose, doesn’t it!)

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