White Foxes Carrying a Coffer, c. 1840

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In Shinto beliefs, foxes are messengers of the gods and protectors of shrines dedicated to Inari, the god of grain. They are thought to turn white with age and to be supernaturally powerful. Here five foxes are shown carrying a large container with the aid of a shoulder pole. Two foxes-one in front and the other in the rear-seem to be shouting. They might be calling out rhythmic time to help synchronize their movements. Since foxes serve the god of grain, it is likely their box is filled with rice. Its weight is suggested by their postures. A full box is auspicious, as it suggests a bountiful harvest. Since magical foxes are believed to have the ability to emit fire, the red spots at the ends of their tails represent their mysterious flames.

White Foxes Carrying a Coffer
Artist Life
1790 - 1843
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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