The Fox's Craft in Japanese Religion and Culture

Shapeshifters, Transformations, and Duplicities

By Michael Bathgate

© 2004 – Routledge

208 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9781138878969
pub: 2015-04-23
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9780415968218
pub: 2003-12-01
US Dollars$150.00

About the Book

For more than a millennium, the fox has been a ubiquitous figure at the margins of the Japanese collective imagination. In the writings of the nobility and the motifs of popular literature, the fox is known as a shapeshifter, able to assume various forms in order to deceive others. Focusing on recurring themes of transformation and duplicity in folklore, theology, and court and village practice, The Fox's Craft explores the meanings and uses of shapeshifter fox imagery in Japanese history. Michael Bathgate finds that the shapeshifting powers of the fox make it a surprisingly fundamental symbol in the discourse of elite and folk alike, and a key component in formulations of marriage and human identity, religious knowledge, and the power of money. The symbol of the shapeshifter fox thus provides a vantage point from which to understand the social practice of signification.

About the Author

Michael Bathgate i s Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, where he teaches courses on the comparative study of religions.

About the Series

Religion in History, Society and Culture

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / Eastern