theladyinthegraveyard:                       …


                                     TAMAMO NO MAE

It’s a legendary
nine tailed fox spirit and one of the most famous kitsune in Japanese mythology
and lore. Her legends appears during the Muromachi period. The first one has
been told by Hokusai and it says that this yokai appeared in China and
possessed Daji, concubine of Shang dinasty’s King Zhou. She enchanted the king
and brought upon a reign of terror that led to a rebellion that ended the Shang
dynasty that led to a rebellion that ended it. After a period of time she
appeared in Japan as Tamamo no Mae, the most favoured courtesan of Emperor
Toba. She caused the emperor to be extremely ill and was exposed as a fox
spirit by the astrologer Abe no Yasuchika. She’s considered one of the Nihon
Sai Dai Aku Yōkai, that is “ the three terrible yokai of Japan”. Little is
known about her but the story goes as follows: probably she was born around
3500 years ago in what is now China and she became a powerful sorceress. After hundred
years she became a “ kyūbi no kitsune” a nine tailed fox with magical powers.
During the Shang dynasty, Tamamo no Mae was known by the name of Daji. She was
known for her cruelty and depravity as well and she ruined the power of the
dynasty. She fled to India and then back to China, where, in 779 BC she became
concubine of King You, she manipulated him pushing the king to depose his wife
and making Bao Si his new queen ( Bao Si is a demon in disguise) and since she didn’t
smile a lot, the king to please her started to commit acts of evil and cruelty,
leading his nobles to leave him alone. When discovered, she hid in Japan when
she remerged in 1090 but this time disguised as a new born baby left by the
side of the road. A couple found and adopted her naming her Mizukume. She proved
to be a smart and intelligent girl. When she was only 7 years old, she recited
poetry before the emperor. He was so impressed that he employed the girl as a
servant in his court proving to be really good in every art from literature to
music to astronomy to art. During the summer of her 18th birthday,
an instrument recital was held for her. During the recital a very strong storm
fell upon the palace, all the candles were snuffed and the room was in total
darkness, except for a bright light emanated from Mizukume’s body. Everybody was
so surprised that they declared that it was a sign that she has been holy and
good in her previous life. Her name was changed then in Tamamo no Mae. Emperor Toba
fell in love with her and married her, but soon after the marriage he fell ill.
Doctors didn’t know what was happening to him and the astronomer Abe no
Yasunari was called to help. He read the emperor’s fortune and declared that
the emperor was marked by a bad omen and after re – reading the emperor’s
fortune discovered that the cause of that illness was Tamamo no Mae herself. The
emperor was in disbelief but agreed to test his bride. Abe no Yasunari prepared
a powerful spell and ordered Tamamo no Mae to participate in the ritual to help
her husband. An evil spirit would not be able to participate but she played
well her part but at the end of the ceremony she vanished. Abe no Yasunari was
right and soon after the emperor discovered that people were disappearing near
the village of Nasumo in Shimotsuke Province. The emperor wanted revenge so he
summoned an army led by two important and loyal warriors: Kazusanosuke and
Miuranosuke and he asked them to find the demon. In Nasuno they found her but
she managed to escape. After days of hard work they finally picked up her
trail. One night, one of these two warriors had a very weird dream where a
crying girl begged him to save her from death but the warrior refused, feeling
that the dream was a bad omen. The next day the caught and destroyed her, but
the evil did not end with her death. Emperor Konoe died, emperor Toba died as
well and this led to a crisis between forces loyal to Emperor Go – Shirakawa and
forces loyal to the former emperor Sutoku. This started te Fujiwara – Minamoto rivalry
that led to the Genpei war, one of the worst wars in Japan, then led to the end
of Heian period and the rise of the first shoguns.

SourceMatthew Meyer – 

The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits: An Encyclopedia of Mononoke and Magic

Image: Gojin Ishihara – The illustrated book of Japanese monsters