fox sculpture meaning

Started by heavenguy, May 09, 2016, 07:06:48

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Hello, I also found this really neat wood carved figurine of what I think is a fox holding a bowl.

I think is also Japanese. Any idea if it was just made for decoration or was it used for something else. I know they made some type of protection totems but it also maybe be a simple tourist decoration.

I was reading that the fox can also be a trickster on Japanese culture. It may sound childish but I don't wanna be messing with something weird or mystical that has a dark meaning...

The wood does't look that old and it was painted with dark stain.

Thank you in advance.



This does not look Chinese or Japanese, Maybe European.


Hey Stan,

The reason why I say its Japanese its because the daughter of the owner of this piece said that it was obtained in Japan before the 60's.  I live in a place were there is a lot of veterans who live in Japan for a number of years and they brought lots of oriental stuff with them. It's your typical story were she remembers this as a kid, and yada yada yada. I know that all stories can be the truth or false, but it's just the beginning of my investigation since I'm not that familiar with wood carvings that was my best lead. I'll keep on looking to see if I find something on this...



This could very well be Japanese as you said, I did a little research and found that the fox was used for house hold shrines and larger ones for public shrines, the fox is the messenger of Inari, the god of rice and many were offered to every shrine, always in pairs, I also found that on Banko earthenware that they carved their ceramics very similar to the hair on your fox, I can only imagine that the fox is holding a bowl for rice, I think this would have been used in a public shrine one on the left and one on the right of the shrine.


Thank you Stan.... Your help is always appreciate it!!! Kudos to you.


I even now have doubts if this is a fox. From the back it looks like one, perhaps, but from the front...the hind legs and mouth look more like those of a hare than those of a canid, and foxes usually have long bushy tails. From the front, the ears definitely do not resemble those of a fox. But then, there is a tail that cannot be that of a hare. Foxes are not usually depicted standing on hind legs either.
Anyway, I think any relation to Inari is far fetched.You can do a search for "Inari" or "Inari temple" etc., and you will find fox sculptures. However, these usually look markedly different from yours.


Yes Peter, the ones I looked at were ceramic and looked more like a fox than this wood carving shown here, but looking at the banko ceramics the hair on the animals is carved the same way as this carving, I know that does not make it Japanese but there is a strong resemblence, perhaps the wood carver is not as good as the ceramics, I agree it does not resemble a fox.


I don't know if this helps but here is a closer look of the tail. It looks long. I don't know if it is fluffy enough but could be the persons interpretation. It kind of looks like cartoonish also...