Cunning as a Fox

by Daniel Mackie July 10, 2012

drawing of a fox

This is the first positive for a two colour screen print, it’s indian ink on clear film. I’ve not decided yet but it will be printed either red or blue.

Throughout many cultures the fox is a symbol of cunning and trickery. Even the possessor of magic powers. The fox has come to represent intelligence triumphing over brawn. In fact, The Moche people of Peru believed the fox to be a warrior that would use his mind to fight. It is similar in Finnish mythology, where it is believed that the fox, while weaker, will always be able to outfox both wolf and bear.

The term “outfox” has come to mean outsmart or outwit. There are hundreds of stories across all cultures representing the fox in this manner.

Kitsune is the Japanese name for fox. Kitsune myths go back to the fifth century BC. Japanese myths depict foxes to be intelligent, smart and the possessors of magical powers that increase with potency as they age and become wiser. Among these magic powers is the ability to assume human form.

Foxes in Japan have become closely associated with Kami or spirits. It is believed that they served as the spirits’ messengers and are a type of yōkai, or spiritual entity. The more tails a kitsune has (they may have as many as nine) the older, wiser, and more powerful they are.

It is not entirely clear, but Japan probably inherited some of its foxy stories and references from China. Because the stories go back so far, things have become clouded in the mists of time. However it does illustrate how engrained in our consciousness foxes have become. Cunning, smart, intelligent and wise. These are all qualities that we would wish to possess, which is perhaps why we like foxes so much; we admire their qualities and character.

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Daniel Mackie
Daniel Mackie


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