An image of Kuzunoha: Farewell to the baby

Utagawa Kunimune II/Kunimasa II

(Japan 1792 – 1857)

Kuzunoha: Farewell to the baby

Not on display
Further information

Kuzunoha is the name of the popular fox character (kitsune) in Japanese stories. Abe no Yasuna a nobleman, set free a fox which had been captured by a hunter. Suddenly a beautiful woman arrived and helped the injured Yasuna home. The woman is Kuzunoho transformed into human form. They fall in love and have a son who has similar supernatural powers to his mother. Her upturned eyes and the unusual striped pattern within them indicate her kitsune heritage.

In this work, mounted on a bamboo grove pattern which relates to where the kitsune live, Kuzunoha is preparing to return to her life in the wild after her son spotted her white tail and her true identity was revealed. Holding the brush in her mouth, she holds her son to her and writes a farewell poem, asking her husband Yasuna to come to see her in the Shinoda forest. Her husband and son visit her in the forest where she appears to them in fox form but never returns to her human life.

Place of origin
Japan: Edo (Tokugawa) period 1615–1868
circa 1830
hanging scroll: ink and colours on silk
86 x 31.5 cm image
Purchased with funds donated by Tony Schlosser 2019
Accession number