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Foxes in Mythology

As a type of canine, foxes have a long, historied presence in mythology. Smart, sometimes conniving animals, foxes are present on most continents in some form or another, but their ecology remains the same. Because of this, there are many legends, traditions, and mythologies surrounding the nature of this incredibly wild animal. From the Japanese kitsune to the Native American trickster, foxes have worn many hats over the centuries of human storytelling and myth-making.

The traditional aspects of fox symbolism around the world tend to hold the same pattern of behaviour and representation:

  • Cleverness
  • Wisdom
  • Curiosity
  • Charm
  • Luck
  • Mischief

The Japanese Kitsune

The word kitsune in Japanese tattoo culture means fox, and the animal itself is an integral part of the culture and mythology of Japan. Represented as intelligent and wise beings with a penchant for shapeshifting, the kitsune retains the Native American folklore of being a trickster or illusionist.

A mythological kitsune uses its shapeshifting abilities to trick others, but they can also have a softer side, which represents them as being faithful and loyal lovers, friends, and companions. Yet, the fox cant escape its fate as an illusionist in Japanese culture.

Kitsune Tattoo Fox

A simplified representation of the kitsune is one with many tails, sometimes as many as nine of them. These are shown as representative of the wisdom that the kitsune has, as well as its overall power. These types of kitsune are known as kami, which is a messenger spirit in the Japanese religion of Shinto.

The Fox as a Native American Trickster

Many people know the foxs mythology through old Native American tales and legends that have been passed down by settlers over the centuries. For Native Americans, the fox was a trickster, one that would get into huts and food storage even when kept under lock and key through sheer determination. As a thinking animal, this trickster would always find a way to outwit the humans and thus garner the mischievous nature they are now known for.

As well as this, there is a tribe of Native Americans that are known as the Fox tribe of Meskwaki. These Native Americans originated in the Great Lakes region as well as present-day Ontario Canada. Interestingly enough, their Fox name was only attributed to them after a translation mistake by French settlers in their native area, so the overall accuracy of this name origin is immediately questionable. However, like most other Native tribes, the Meskwaki undoubtedly had contact with the trickster.

Fox Tattoo

Foxes as Wild Animals

Many people have never even seen a fox in the wild, as they are incredibly timid and naturally elusive creatures. This may be the origin of a lot of their mischievous tendencies, as they are incredibly difficult to hunt and find out in the wild. Omnivorous and opportunistic, foxes typically live up to three years in the wild, sometimes as long as ten. A majority of their diet comes from smaller reptiles, insects and eggs, along with a few plants that provide necessary nutrition.

A fox hunts in a way that can seem reminiscent of a cat, using stalking and then a pouncing technique to ambush their prey. In this way, they can permanently camouflage themselves to their prey before surprising them.

Contemporary Views of Foxes

Most western countries have a strained relationship with the fox. Many farmers know the mischievous, smart nature of these animals makes them incredibly difficult to hunt, track, or trap when preying on livestock.

Luckily, many organizations offer educational materials and hands-on workshops with these animals that showcase their necessity in wild ecosystems. As a predator, foxes can bring balance to the food chain and a positive impact on the environment.

Fox Tattoos

Representing the Fox in Permanent Body Art

Foxes can be a great tattoo design for an individual who has a multifaceted personality and just the right amount of mischievousness. As well as this, foxes are relatively misunderstood as vermin or unwanted, lending them to have a higher empathy position in the art world. Since foxes are essential and unique creatures, tattoos with fox designs are often immediately recognizable, whether as the traditional red fox or a unique arctic one.

Deciding on what type of design you want is the first step, and you can get something that nearly photo-realistic, more abstract, or a traditional tribal tattoo, as seen in other cultures.

The Appeal of Tribal Tattoos

Tribal tattoos are gaining in popularity as a symbol avenue because they combine that realistic, in-your-face look along with a more subtle abstract to create the perfect tattoo design. The typically thicker, bolder lines of tribal tattoos mean that they are best placed on areas of the body that are seen by others so that you can best showcase your unique expression and symbolism.

If you do decide to get a tribal tattoo, take some time in figuring out exactly how you want it to look, and maybe commission an artist to do a few sketches for you until youre sure that its perfect for what you want. Theres no need to rush into it, so take your time in finding the right artist and the ideal fox tattoo to be permanently placed on your body.

Kitsune Tattoo Sleeve

The Process of Getting Your Fox Tattoo

Once you find someone that youre comfortable doing your tattoo, you can work on booking an appointment shortly after your consultation. Be sure to ask your artist about any questions you might have about the tattoo process, whether its your first time or one of many. Each artist has their unique way of doing things, so if youre seeing a new artist, you might want to talk with them about what to expect.

Once you finally get your fox tattoo, you can work on ensuring that its kept clean so that it has adequate time to heal, and youll have a new tattoo design that you can appreciate for years to come.

Ready to book your Fox Tattoo?

Want to book an appointment with one of our Toronto, Markham, Mississauga, or Vancouver tattoo artists? Interested in seeing if we can turn your tattoo idea into a custom tattoo design? Contact us today and let us know your plan. One of our Chronic Ink tattoo consultants will be in touch to help connect you with someone to bring your idea to life.

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