Nine-tailed Fox


Nine-tailed Fox
Print   (Part of the set: Akashi-ban Surimono)

Harukawa Goshichi


Print is Public Domain; Photography is:   Creative Commons License


Here we see a nine-tailed fox depicted on the back of a mirror. The kyōka poem at the left-hand side of the print is by Tsurunoya, and reads "May not the tips of nine tails reflected in an unspotted mirror be the Nine-Tailed Fox?" (translation by the MET). This poem is referring to Daji (妲己), the favorite concubine of King Zhou of the Shang dynasty. She was believed to have been a malevolent fox spirit, and appeared in this form in stories from the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907) onward. While one reference source for this print suggests that the fox is a design painted on the back of the mirror, another implies that it is a true reflection of the mythical creature...

The body and tails of the fox have been "pushed out" with an embossing technique called kimedashi. Kimedashi is produced by pushing the back of the paper down into recessions carved into the block. The front side of the sheet is thus raised up slightly, and the print is actually turned into a (very shallow) bas relief object. There are limits as to how far this can be carried without tearing the paper, but even a shallow kimedashi can be very effective.

Another Search

Tale of the Tongue-cut Sparrow
Still Life with Fishes