I give up on the camera. No matter what I do, the stupid thing keeps making the damn pictures blurry. *throws it at the wall* ><
This image depicts the 5 spirit animals often referred to as the Five Great Ones, or the Five Gods of Wealth, yet they're always given female kinship terms. It's really interesting, yet there's absolutely NOTHING on the internet or in books, save for "Alien Kind" and "The Cult of the Fox", nothing in english at least. What other info exists is in Chinese.
Here's the excerpt from "Alien Kind" by Rania Huntington, pg 166, on the 5 spirits:
"A non-narrative rejection of the powers of predominantly female mediums is found in a Guangxu collection, Zhang Tao's Jinmen zaji
in the context of worship of the five animal spirits.
The female mediums of Tianjin claim that they pray to spirits, can act as mediums, and cure people's illnesses. People call them guniangzi
(auntie). Since the locals are foolish and ignorant, if someone falls ill, people often call them.......Sometimes the spirit calls itself Mistress White, sometimes Grandma Yellow, and sometimes Auntie Hu. Of the names the spirits take, most are female. [dk's note: this is due to the Chinese stereotype of women as weak and powerless, no doubt forced upon them by Chinese society of back then anyway, hence their keen interest in the one place they can gain some sort of power and respect, communication with spirits]
Zhang next introduced "the five great ones" (wu da jia), the five sacred animals and their surnames: [dk's note: the top three characters of the middle coin is wu da jia, the bottom 5 are the names of the ANIMALS, NOT the surnames/color names that are being listed next]
the fox is Hu; the weasel, Huang (yellow); the hedgehog, Bai (white); the snake, Liu (willow [dk's note: I just used the colors of a willow tree's leaf on the snake, since I had no other idea what it might refer to, and other sources simply say green]
); and the rat, Hui (gray)"
The only other book I've found that mentions these in english is "The Cult of the Fox" by Xiaofei Kang, pg 48:
"Still, north China.....have remained the heartland of fox cult practices till the present day. Sources from the late ninteenth and twentieth centuries also mention that the fox was commonly worshiped as one of a group of five sacred animals, maned Five Great Xian (wudaxian), Five Great Households (wudamen), or Five Great Families (wudajia). In some places, the cult comprised four instead of five, and it usually included the fox, weasl, hedgehog, and snake. While the fox and weasel always remained the first two members of the cult [dk's note: that's why they're on the top]
, others in these groups of sacred animals varied in different regions, and included the tiger, wolf, hare or turtle. Li Qingchen, a scholar of Tianjin, explained the images of the five animals in the popular mind:
Some in my hometown worship the images of Five Xian......I said these five can be distinguished by five colors. My guest asked, 'Bai and Huang are hedgehog's and weasel's original colors, Hui is black and Liu is green. But can Hu be red?' I said yes. The Odes of Songs reads: 'Nothing is redder than fox'. My guest agreed."
and pg 83 (same book):
"The saying 'the fox can bring wealth (hu ke zhifu)' recurs in Ming-Qing stories and was a common topos in popular belief. The late Qing scholar, Xue Fucheng (1838-1894) observed that 'Northerners believe that the fox, snake, hedgehog, rat, and weasel are gods of wealth. People do not dare to offend these creatures when they see them'.....and in popular prints they were represented with a silver shoe in their hands and the fabled wealth-collecting pot at their feet. [dk's note: I left this part out for purely artistic purposes]
'The little shrines built as shelters for these animals in a corner of most threshing floors and gardens are called ts'ai shen fang (caishen fang), 'house of the wealth-god' [dk's note: these guys were INFORMAL wealth gods, often associated with commoners and the lower classes. The FORMAL wealth god(s) are much different in looks, ranks, offerings, and rituals]
And I sure do love money.
Materials: Acrylic, Bristol board, Colored pencils, ink, coin
Size: 11x14 in (27.9x35.5 cm)
Art © WhiteFoxDK, please do not copy or redistribute.
Concept © Northern China, so I have absolutely no problem (nor do I have a right to be) with others making their own representation of these guys.