Mythical Creature Series - Nine-tail Fox/Kyubiko
Needle felted mythical creatures
Many of mythical creatures are some kind of hybrids of familiar animals - rabbits with horns, fox with nine tails, deer with wings, etc. There are probably some truth in these myth, like jackalopes are just normal rabbits infected by a rare virus and grown tumors on their heads, while some of them are just myth. I always found these myth fascinating. They belong in both a fantastical world and in reality, and yet they belong in neither. I like to think that these creations are human's way of making sense of the unknowable world, pushing the boundary between what's real and what's not, known and unknow, safe and dangerous.
In Chinese it's 九尾狐 (direct translation: nine-tailed fox); in Japanese it's Kyubiko; in Korean it's Kumiho. It's a common subject in East-Asian folklores.
The reference I'm reading is 山海经 (direct translation: The Classics of Mountains and Seas); a book of mythic geography and creatures. The version we can read now is from around100BC, but it's believed that the book exist even earlier. The book says that there is a creature exist in the mountains; it look like a fox with nine tails, it cries like a baby, it's carnivorous, and if you eat it, no poison can harm you (Can I say it's such a Chinese culture thing? Whatever a new thing is, the first thought people have is always if it is edible). The nine tailed fox is also believed to be good omen. It will appear if the current ruler is moral and fair.
I think it's like most mythical creatures, the symbolism of the Nine-tailed Fox is complex: it's a beautiful creature which can bring good fortune to whomever sees it, but it's also dangerous and carnivorous. Of course afterwards it's meaning keeps evolving, it began to be associated with beautiful women who seduces men. But then the stories aren't all bad, in many stories, the fox has elaborate back story and can be seen as a sexually liberated independent woman by modern standards. I just love the ambiguity of it's symbolism.