The Fox Cult

The Cult of the Fox: Power, Gender, and Popular Religion in Late Imperial and Modern China
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The Cult of the Fox

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The Cult of the Fox is bound to be the definitive work on the subject. (Gerald Vinten Reviews in Religion and Theology) Kang has indeed given us a superb. Read "The Cult of the Fox Power, Gender, and Popular Religion in Late Imperial and Modern China" by Xiaofei Kang available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up.

Letters of Fire and Sword A Witch Shall Be Born Spirit of the Hunter Through Metal and Madness This is a truly lovely story. The fox when discovering his affair with the ghost tries to get him to stop as the ghost 's yin energy is too strong so he will be doomed to die unless he gives up he affair.

A Vow of Vengeance

However, when she discovers that he is really in love with the ghost she gives him a pill that saves him and the ghost is reincarnated in the body of a girl from a nearby family and then marries the scholar. After the marriage the fox chooses to die and is herself reincarnated and as a 14 year old girl from a poor family and becomes his concubine. So they all live happily ever after. Wang points out how in this story the fox acted as the exorcist, heals the afflicted and converts harm to blessing Other stories look at fox spirits who were lovers of grandfathers, or other older deceased family members, who returned to the family when they were in poverty and helped them re-establish their wealth and rank.

In these stories the foxes took the offerings and provided the services that were normally done by the ancestors. These female foxes were able to preserve the family line and restore wealth and prestige even though they were outsiders. Foxes bringing wealth to a family was a very common theme.

Women who were possessed by fox spirits is given significant attention.

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Kang looks at the way women of low social status were able to use possession to "negotiate their own interests" Little attention is given to whether or not these possessions were intentional or not, rather the results and the outcomes are decided. One example given was of a maid who was not married out who "became possessed by a fox spirit" and went crazy and started having illicit sex while possessed.

The fox said it was because the family had failed in their duty to marry out the maids and so all the maids who had not been given in marriage were. This story shows the conflict between the economic hardship of marrying women, and the social pressure of upholding female chastity Women who became possessed by foxes could also make a new life for themselves as a successful spirit medium, allowing them the position of a powerful religious professional within the community There is also an example of a young maid who becomes possessed by a fox spirit, however the man in charge of the household refuses to give in to the foxes demands, stating that he would rather have his concubine die than to have her live as a medium, so the fox leaves and the woman returns to her former state.

Mediums are seen as healers in both 20th century accounts as well as anecdote tales from the Ming and Qing. Their clients listed in these sources include men and women from all different social classes, however many Ming Qing literati writings assumed their clients were either from a very low social background or were gullible women There is even a story of a woman who was deceiving people saying she was possessed by a fox spirit when she wasn't who was possessed by the fox spirit and shown, by the fox, to have been a fraud Kang also looks at the relation of fox spirits to female deities, such as the Xi Wangmu, Mother Taishan and Granny Wang.

She also looks at the changing nature of the relationship between fox spirits and officials. There are numerous stories of official trying to stop sacrifices to the foxes and of destroying their shrines. However in these cases the foxes always return, though often not until after the officials have moved to their next post. These stories are used as an example between the conflict between the government and local interests Officials who did not try to stop fox worship were often rewarded for their efforts, either with power or wealth.

In the 19th century foxes became the "guardians of the official seal" Kang ends the book with a wonderful conclusion, looking at how the fox cult is another illustration of the complexity of Chinese religions, and the appeal of cults that go beyond the bureaucratic mode. Which is a great conclusion, despite the use of the word "discourse". All in all a fascinating work of scholarship which I know I'll be referring to for years to come.

Feb 28, Grady McCallie rated it liked it Shelves: china. I came to this book after reading Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio: The classic collection of eerie and fantastic Chinese stories of the supernatural , wanting to know more about fox people - and this seemed to be the most specific work in English. It's not long - just over pages - but I found it slow going.

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The Philosophy of Qi. Kang describes various cult practices, activities of worship, and the exorcising of fox spirits to reveal how the Chinese people constructed their cultural and social values outside the gaze of offical power and morality. Tem certeza que deseja excluir esta playlist? Alan marked it as to-read Oct 24, Thanks for telling us about the problem. One example given was of a maid who was not married out who "became possessed by a fox spirit" and went crazy and started having illicit sex while possessed. Jobcentre Rejects by various artists.

The book presents a thoughtful analysis of how fox spirits have been portrayed in Chinese culture since the late Han, and how that portrayal has changed over time. More specifically, t I came to this book after reading Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio: The classic collection of eerie and fantastic Chinese stories of the supernatural , wanting to know more about fox people - and this seemed to be the most specific work in English.

More specifically, the author is interested in the way that local fox cults - 'cults' in the enthographic sense of ritual traditions, not in the popular American sense of a mind-controlling sect - have been a contested tradition. Women and lower status men have used them to step outside conventional social hierarchies by becoming mediators to transmit guidance from fox spirits.

In that role, adherents could behave in ways that would bring punishment down on an ordinary person, but not on someone who had been temporarily possessed by a fox spirit. On the other hand, religious and political authorities, at least from the Ming on, appear to have developed various ways of co-opting or controlling fox cults.

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The most interesting part of the book is in chapter 5 - but, alas, is all too brief - a discussion of the author's discovery of a modern fox cult operating out of a Buddhist temple near the northern city of Yulin. Little about the fox cult is visible in the temple, and the sacrifices brought to the fox spirit are camofluaged - for example, prayer flags that could simply be Buddhist - but adherents living nearby know, and visit the fox spirit's human interpreter for help with all sorts of ailments and problems. It would have been nice to read thicker description of how this works. One aspect that made the book somewhat challenging, but is perhaps standard for works of religious anthropology: the author straddles a fence on whether the supernatural experiences of those who practice in a fox cult are to be understood in sociological or metaphysical terms.

That is, a major part of the author's thesis appears to be that the fox cults enabled otherwise marginalized people to step out of the local social hierarchy and assert authority via their ties to the foxes.

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Some stories of possessed young women are read this way, and the passion gives the women a way to protest unhappy marriages or family situations, while disavowing personal responsibility if patriarchal authorities respond with hostility rather than giving ground, which happens in other stories. But the author isn't quite explicit about this, as though he's also trying to avoid offending readers who believe that fox spirits are real and have played a role in their own family histories. This ambiguity in the language - I don't think the author himself is ambiguous in his opinion - muffles his top-level argument.

Still, there's a lot of interesting details, with the potential for interesting points of comparison with the anthropology of elves or the fae in Northern European and Celtic cultural traditions. As a side note, so many of the stories involve fox spirits - hu xian - being trapped in bottles that it made me wonder if there's any etymological relationship between the term and the Arabic djinn, or genies and both are liminal figures in a variety of other ways - but the 'trapped in a bottle' trope really stands out.

Wikipedia tells me this has been suggested before, but not whether there's any plausibility to it. Jul 16, Mary Catelli rated it really liked it Shelves: history-far-east , history-modern , folklore. An intensive, indepth look at the position of the foxes in Chinese lore.

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Early on it discusses translations. Which would be a pretty good translation, since they are rather in the same category as the, ehem, Fair Folk -- to be sure, they don't go after babies; they are vulnerable to virtuous officials rather than iron; when they present you with gold or the like, the problem is more likely that it's stolen goods than it's illusionary, but the principle's the same -- if only An intensive, indepth look at the position of the foxes in Chinese lore. Which would be a pretty good translation, since they are rather in the same category as the, ehem, Fair Folk -- to be sure, they don't go after babies; they are vulnerable to virtuous officials rather than iron; when they present you with gold or the like, the problem is more likely that it's stolen goods than it's illusionary, but the principle's the same -- if only most people thought of the Fair Folk when thinking "fairy.

It goes through the legends, and the acquiring of power. Any animal that lives out centuries will acquire new powers, such as the ability to change into human form. The perils of foxes living nearby -- note that a grandfather fox, presiding over a family of foxes, is a venerable figure, while a lone young man or woman is perilous -- and the options of either exorcism or worship to deal with.

Beneficent foxes who were your grandfather's mistress or concubine and so wish to help you. The use of fox-spirit mediums. The interactions between officials and foxes -- many officials worshiped foxes as the Great Guardian of the Imperial Seal, but this appears, from the legends, to be a way to prevent the mischievous foxes from stealing their badge of office.

Occasionally slips into using the fox legends to perpetuating some fairly standard boiler-plate about power-relations, but otherwise chock-full of interesting stuff. Jun 24, Jessica Zu rated it it was amazing Shelves: ge.

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