Kuzunoha: writing a farewell poem to her child
Utagawa Kunimune II/Kunimasa II
1792 - 1857
Kuzunoha is a magical white fox (kitsune) who has taken human form. When still a fox, she was trapped by a hunter and set free by a young man. She fell in love with her saviour, Abe no Yasuna, and transformed to be with him. When their son was small, he noticed his mother’s tufts of tail. As a result, she was obliged to return to life as a fox. Kuzunoha held the boy close and wrote her farewell poem with a brush in her mouth. It says, ‘If you love me, try to come and visit me’ (aishikuba tazune kite miyo). Her husband and son visit her in the forest where she appears to them in fox form but never returns to her human life.
Kuzunoha's upturned eyes and the unusual striped pattern within them indicate her kitsune heritage. The mounting of the painting similaly features a bamboo grove pattern in reference to the home of the kitsune.
Place where the work was made
hanging scroll: ink and colours on silk
86 x 31.5 cm image
Purchased with funds donated by Tony Schlosser 2019
Not on display
Where the work was made
Shown in 1 exhibition
Japan Supernatural, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 02 Nov 2019–08 Mar 2020