Nine Tailed Fox, Huli Jing, Fox Spirit, Fox God, and Fox Demon.

 

What Are the Nine-Tailed Fox, Huli Jing, Fox Spirit, Fox God, and Fox Demon?

 

Nine Tailed Fox, Huli Jing, Fox Spirit, Fox Demon, and Fox God are creatures in Chinese Mythology with long histories, changing reputations, diverse magic, and fascinating stories.

 

They are all foxes with supernatural power, but in different states, forms, and cultivation means.

  • Nine Tailed Fox (in Chinese Jiuwei Hu) is a mythical creature in ancient Chinese mythology.

 

It is a silver-white fox with nine tails, howls like a newborn baby, and only shows up in flourishing, prosperous, and peaceful places. 

Nine-Tailed Fox Drew by Shi Lin

Nine-Tailed Fox Drawn by Shi Lin

  • Huli Jing or Fox Spirit, recorded later in history, is a fox that obtained magic power, mostly can convert to or possess human beings and come into the secular world.

 

Huli Jing or Fox Spirit can be good or bad, based on one's characteristics and practice means.

 

  • Fox God is the fox deity that practices and obtains power in righteous ways, followed the rules of Taoism Religion.

 

They are wiser and more powerful, value morals and justice, and would help humans when it's necessary. Obtaining magic and immortality are their final goals, but they would never hurt humans to achieve that.

A Fox Spirit from TV Show "Legend of Nine Tails Fox"

A Fox Spirit from TV Show "Legend of Nine Tails Fox"

  • Fox Demon or Huyao refers to foxes trying to obtain magic power through evil means, no matter whether these cultivations would hurt others.

 

These demon foxes follow no rules and never care about the right ways in the world. They would possess the land, hurt and kill people, and if gained more power, would perish cities and states.

Fox Demon The Owner of Precious Jade Workshop in the Movie "White Snake"

Fox Demon The Owner of Precious Jade Workshop in the Movie "White Snake", Produced by Light Chaser Animation Studios.

A fox with special encounters and obtained enough magic aura from the universe can become Fox Spirit or Hulijing, and would grow the additional number of tails with their power got increased to a certain degree.

 

The successful ones, after centuries of hard cultivation and tests, can become Nine Tailed Fox, or Fox God the Huxian.

 

Others might fail or become Demon Fox which could hurt people, and later got defeated or suppressed.

Nine Tailed Fox Spirit Drawn by BoluohuiS

Nine Tailed Fox Spirit Drawn by BoluohuiS.

 

What Is the Origin of Nine Tailed Fox?

 

Nine-Tailed Fox has firstly recorded in the ancient masterpiece The Classic of Mountains and Seas

 

In this book, it is a type of auspicious creature that has silver-white fur and nine tails, and would only appear in stable and prosperous kingdoms. 

 

They may prey on people, and humans that ate Nine-Tailed Fox's flesh can be protected from all types of evils and poisons. 

 

Meanwhile, most of them live in a magical place named Qingqiu. 

Nine Tailed Fox in Qingqiu

Nine Tailed Fox in Qingqiu, Drawn by Quangao.

In some folklores, when Yu the Great (about 2123 BC — 2025 BC) was fighting against the huge flood, a Nine Tailed Fox transformed into a beautiful woman, assisted and fell in love with him. 

 

Another saying is that this woman, later the first queen of the Xia Dynasty (2070 BC — 1600 BC), was from a tribe that lives in Qingqiu, which is a place in today's Heze city of Shandong Province.

 

This powerful tribe named Tushan possibly had a fox with nine tails as the totem or was an alliance of clans that all used fox as their totems. 

Bronze Artifact Decorated with Turquoise Unearthed From Erlitou Site, A Possible Relic Site of Part of the Xia Dynasty

Bronze Artifact Decorated with Turquoise Unearthed From Erlitou Site, A Possible Relic Site of Part of the Xia Dynasty — Luoyang Museum

Therefore, from the beginning, the Nine Tailed Fox had been the symbol of auspiciousness, prosperity, happiness, and love. 

 

Changing Reputations of Nine Tailed Fox Throughout History

 

From the Xia (2070 BC — 1600 BC) to Han (202 BC — 220 AD) dynasties, Nine Tailed Fox had been one of the propitious spirits, together with the Chinese Dragon Loong, Chinese Phoenix Fenghuang, and Qilin

Auspicious and Kind Nine-Tailed Fox

Auspicious and Kind Nine-Tailed Fox, Picture from Lianhua.

Gradually, more records regarding demon fox obtaining magic power, transforming into human form, and entering people's worlds, appeared and were widespread in novels and folklores.

 

Since Tang Dynasty (618 — 907), the Nine Tailed Fox turned completely evil, after having been connected to two queens in history that overthrew kingdoms. 

Nine-Tailed Fox with Human Figure

Nine-Tailed Fox with Human Figure, Drawn by Shanze Li Yifan.

They were believed incarnations of wiser and more powerful Nine Tailed Foxes, extremely beautiful and seductive. They had lured and manipulated their kings, and in the end, perished their kingdoms. 

 

One is Daji, the queen of King Dixin, who perished the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC — 1046 BC), and the other is Baosi, the queen of King Ji Gongheng, who ended the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC — 771 BC). 

Unearthed Ritual Bronze Vessel (Li Gui) with Inscriptions Carved inside Recorded the Battle of Muye that Perished Shang Dynasty, and the Establishment of the Zhou Dynasty
Inscriptions about the Battle of Muye on the Unearthed Bronze Bowl (Li Gui) of the Zhou Dynasty

Ritual Bronze Vessel (Li Gui) with Inscriptions Carved inside Recorded the Battle of Muye that Perished Shang Dynasty — National Museum of China

Hence, Nine-Tailed Fox became a seductive and indecent creature, a family wrecker, a kingdom destructor, just like Demon Fox or Huyao.

 

These two queens were real figures in history, however, whether they were incarnations of evil Nine Tailed Fox spirits, and whether they should take responsibility for the fall of these two empires, no one can be absolutely sure to tell. 

Nine-Tailed Fox Drew by Shanze Li Yifan

Nine-Tailed Fox Drawn by Shanze Li Yifan

 

Is Huli Jing or Fox Spirit Good or Bad in Folklores?

 

Among all forms of foxes with supernatural power, Fox Demon or Huyao is evil and destructive, while Fox God or Huxian is benevolent and righteous.

 

The Huli Jing or Fox Spirit, however, can be both.

 

No later than the Three Kingdoms, Jin, Northern, and Southern Dynasties (220 — 589), in myths and legends, foxes, after centuries of cultivation, were able to obtain magic power and emotion, and gain abilities to transform into human forms.

 

The longer time they practice, the more power they got, and the more tails they would grow. 

 

During their tens of thousands of years long practice procedures, some of them would turn into humans and interact with people. 

Huli Jing Transformed Beautiful Woman

Huli Jing Transformed Beautiful Woman, Drawn by Zhang Wang.

In large numbers of novels and folklores, some Huli Jing had tricked, helped, made friends, or fell in love with people, while others of them had turned into beautiful women (sometimes handsome men), lured people to get humans' essence, even lives, to obtain power for their practice.

 

In some legends, powerful foxes also may share information with or possess humans, in exchange for people's help. 

 

Therefore, to sum up, Huli Jing can be good, sincere, mischievous, smart, greedy, or evil. Everything is possible to be found in these spirit foxes. 

Image of Nine-Tailed Fox

Image of Red Fox with Nine Tails, Picture from jasmineyu.

 

What Does the Fox Symbolize in Chinese Culture?

 

With changing reputations of Nine Tailed Fox, and the diverse characteristics of Huli Jing, Fox Spirit, Fox God, and Demon Fox in folklores and legends, the fox has been the symbol of smartness, auspiciousness, beautiful love, as well as crafty, sly, evil, seductive, allure. 

 

Because of these complicated images, today, Nine-Tailed Fox shape decorations have been quite popular, especially among women, which believed can bring them good luck in their love lives.