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Kaidonni
07-29-2013, 06:58 PM
EDIT: Er, I believe this was meant for the People of Colour forum - somehow I got mixed up and posted it in Politics and Current Events. If a moderator could please relocate it, it would be much appreciated. Sorry!

It's looking like I'm going to be writing a story based on a conlanging experiment, and I've been inspired by elements of Japanese mythology:

1. The powers of Kitsune since as I want fox spirits also (and I love foxes, such beautiful creatures), including taking the form of women or possessing women (although I'm probably going to extend it to both men and women). In fact, there is a religion that revolves around the fox spirits, and the central prophet/god was born of a relationship between a fox spirit and a man (which would involve the fox spirit fleeing once the man found out what she really was - from my research on Kitsune). I certainly won't be calling them Kitsune, as the name of my fox spirits will be based on the prophet/god character's name (which is not from any real world language, Asian or otherwise).

2. This same prophet/god - when he was a mortal - didn't give birth to any spirits, but his wife was sent to the underworld just as Izanami was in the Japanese creation myth. This will also involve his wife partaking in the pleasures there, being trapped and becoming a walking corpse, with him potentially closing off at least one entrance to the underworld (or his wife's personal underworld).

I'm not sure what race the main culture will be yet, although the prophet/god character lives for an extremely long time as a mortal and may travel a very long distance. I'm thinking he was of Asian-descent (or my world's equivalent), that many cultures have stories of him, and he ended up saving a white culture (which goes on to worshipping him and the fox spirits, forming a religion, and is also aware of his origins from another part of the world). Of course, it is subject to change quite easily (I still haven't truly made my mind up).

So, anything for me to worry about here at all? Any advice?

thothguard51
07-29-2013, 07:02 PM
Sounds interesting but as always, success will depend on the execution...

Liosse de Velishaf
07-30-2013, 02:35 AM
Depends on the execution.

Possession is a common spirit power. Is there a particular reason you chose to keep the fox aspect of the folklore? Does the book have any other elements of Japanese culture besides the fox spirits? Does the religion have any other elements of Japanese culture besides the fox spirits?

Rachel Udin
07-30-2013, 06:26 AM
PoC, I specialize in East Asian... if you're specifically going Kitsune rather than fox spirits in general, I would go with making the character Japanese... Fox spirit lore changes country to country. (Personally, I prefer the earlier versions which were far less sexist...)

And also actually reading up on Kitsune. Kitsune have changed drastically over time in Japan. Originally they were male and female rather than just temptresses as a cautionary tale to men about oversexed (and I use this term mockingly) women.

The god you need is Inari... who is the god of the harvest and rice. He had several messenger foxes too, in the original. And there was a division of color as well.

i.e. Do your research. Physically decide what you're going with and don't wash it over.

Also read the other three cultural appropriation threads. While they are on different regions (South Asia, Afghanistan, East Asia) the themes and the advice are pretty much the exact same. =P And I don't like repeating when it's been said.

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=274341
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=274023

The South Asian thread is old and a bit hard to find... but it's the same advice all the way through. Find the diversity, etc. And if you're shy about research, hands off.

You might also want to check out the threads about Katana, the book, and the other one I can't quite remember but someone else might... where it was Japanese epic race fail. (Which included having Japanese-ish characters saying Aigo and Aiyo...)

Kaidonni
07-30-2013, 01:20 PM
PoC, I specialize in East Asian... if you're specifically going Kitsune rather than fox spirits in general, I would go with making the character Japanese... Fox spirit lore changes country to country. (Personally, I prefer the earlier versions which were far less sexist...)

And also actually reading up on Kitsune. Kitsune have changed drastically over time in Japan. Originally they were male and female rather than just temptresses as a cautionary tale to men about oversexed (and I use this term mockingly) women.

The god you need is Inari... who is the god of the harvest and rice. He had several messenger foxes too, in the original. And there was a division of color as well.

i.e. Do your research. Physically decide what you're going with and don't wash it over.

Also read the other three cultural appropriation threads. While they are on different regions (South Asia, Afghanistan, East Asia) the themes and the advice are pretty much the exact same. =P And I don't like repeating when it's been said.

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=274341
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=274023

The South Asian thread is old and a bit hard to find... but it's the same advice all the way through. Find the diversity, etc. And if you're shy about research, hands off.

You might also want to check out the threads about Katana, the book, and the other one I can't quite remember but someone else might... where it was Japanese epic race fail. (Which included having Japanese-ish characters saying Aigo and Aiyo...)

Don't have much time to respond at the moment, but I'll try my best.

Kitsune were the first fox spirits that came to mind, but I wasn't going specifically with Kitsune themselves. At the time I started developing the idea, they were the only fox spirits I was aware of.

It's just going with fox spirits made me a bit nervous, and some of the abilities. The religion itself will not bear any resemblance to Shinto, and the fox spirits will be massively involved; the prophet/god character the religion revolves around actually became a fox himself (being born of a relationship between a fox spirit and a mortal, he had to every so often - think of the Tale of Bisclavret with a fox instead of a wolf, and no fearful wife), and eventually became trapped. He forgot who he was as a result, but the connection between him and his wife (trapped in the underworld as previously mentioned) kept him alive for over a thousand years. He eventually came to save a group of people from a fate far worse than death, which involved making them were-foxes by sacrificing his existence on the mortal plane (imparting his essence on them). Because of this, other fox spirits in that area were given a greater purpose and bestow the same ability to people of the religion, also participating in various ceremonies and worship (not all fox spirits, some are still troublesome).

It could be this prophet/god comes from an area populated by fox spirits that are specifically based on Kitsune, and where he ends up the fox spirits aren't nearly as powerful or renowned, and his sacrifice gives them something to aspire to.


Depends on the execution.

Possession is a common spirit power. Is there a particular reason you chose to keep the fox aspect of the folklore? Does the book have any other elements of Japanese culture besides the fox spirits? Does the religion have any other elements of Japanese culture besides the fox spirits?

I chose foxes because I love them, absolutely magnificent creatures. I was going for why there would be a religion involving were-foxes, and how that ability would be passed on. Fox spirits naturally came into it. There is the equivalent to the Pope or Japanese emperor, a figure whose power waxes and wanes over time, but ultimately isn't the most powerful individual. As far as Inari goes, I wasn't going for gods prior to the sacrifice of the fox being involved very much, and considered that the fox's sacrifice restored his wife's beauty in the underworld and she then becomes a god-like figure also.

kuwisdelu
07-30-2013, 03:52 PM
Since your fantasy culture isn't really Japanese,

1. I don't think you actually need to be true to the real Japanese mythology at all, so I wouldn't worry too much about trying to make sure you incorporate the same culture and traditions and folklore. Some similarities are inevitable. That's okay.

However,

2. I do think you should still absolutely research as much as you can about it, in addition to other fox spirits in mythologies around the world. Pay close attention to the culture, and how the mythology fits into the culture. Not only is this important for making sure your own mythology feels real, but also so you're aware of the potential connections people will draw, and so you don't make any unfortunate implications.

Kaidonni
07-31-2013, 10:31 PM
I found an excellent website with a lot of examples of the different fox spirit stories from Chinese and Japanese folklore, as well as an extensive bibliography and links to various other websites. Unfortunately, some of the links no longer work, but there do appear to be some excellent resources that do still work. The site is http://academia.issendai.com/fox-index.shtml. It's certainly giving me plenty to read and track down, and more ideas.

I am definitely going with the prophet/god character in the religion being a PoC, and his ascension being what inspired the foxes where he travelled to (I'm leaning towards the concept that the various spirits find niches, and where he originally lived foxes had already found their own niche, so there was a long tradition of fox spirits there).

Ken
08-01-2013, 02:41 AM
... for me, the only issue would be "the underworld."
I've always supposed that was exclusively a religious concept of west.
Sort of surprising to learn it is not.
When reading your book, I might therefore
have a slight sense of your westernizing your story to suit your
purposes. Of course you wouldn't be as I now know, but as a
reader I might still suspect so, just a tad.
"Well isn't this convenient!"

ps Sounds like a neat concept.
Foxes are cool animals!

Rachel Udin
08-01-2013, 06:02 PM
Originally fox spirits weren't women that wanted sex all the time--in Korean lore, for example, the idea of the eating of the liver only came later. Rather fox spirits were there to tell you good or bad omens about your future and more were in the trickster position rather than a cautionary tale. However, the idea of the fox bead giving immortality (which is Korean through and through from what I know) is an older idea. The stories posted on the website you found seem to only have the late Joseon-type stories rather than the earlier stories.

The drama My Girlfriend is a Gumiho actually played with this idea that the whole liver eating thing was vicious lies which caused the death of the character in the first life. It showed what the original myth was in an odd way, while playing with the later myth. (Have to eat 100 human livers to become human... which came from the later Chinese version)

This is also true of the Japanese version of the tale, where Kitsune were merely messengers for Inari, the harvest God. Their version had it that they didn't even shift shape, and merely gained tails with the occasional good deed (lost tails with bad deeds), upon which getting the correct amount of tails (Which varied by region) they could turn human. The later version of the Chinese myth then became a cautionary tale about treating women right since Kitsune were thought to be born out of women looking for revenge upon their death. (It's really unfair...)

So they went from these magnificent messengers of good and bad omens that sometimes helped people to the underworld (the last part is Korean) to sexist tales about women... and then the male Kitsune awesome for being told to be all black... got dropped out of the picture because it didn't fit with the sexist ideology. (Now everyone in Japan thinks that Kitsune are white... also in Korea... but originally there were color divisions to distinguish)

http://www.coyotes.org/kitsune/ <-- has references and more myths.

Kaidonni
08-02-2013, 04:29 PM
Originally fox spirits weren't women that wanted sex all the time--in Korean lore, for example, the idea of the eating of the liver only came later. Rather fox spirits were there to tell you good or bad omens about your future and more were in the trickster position rather than a cautionary tale. However, the idea of the fox bead giving immortality (which is Korean through and through from what I know) is an older idea. The stories posted on the website you found seem to only have the late Joseon-type stories rather than the earlier stories.

The drama My Girlfriend is a Gumiho actually played with this idea that the whole liver eating thing was vicious lies which caused the death of the character in the first life. It showed what the original myth was in an odd way, while playing with the later myth. (Have to eat 100 human livers to become human... which came from the later Chinese version)

This is also true of the Japanese version of the tale, where Kitsune were merely messengers for Inari, the harvest God. Their version had it that they didn't even shift shape, and merely gained tails with the occasional good deed (lost tails with bad deeds), upon which getting the correct amount of tails (Which varied by region) they could turn human. The later version of the Chinese myth then became a cautionary tale about treating women right since Kitsune were thought to be born out of women looking for revenge upon their death. (It's really unfair...)

So they went from these magnificent messengers of good and bad omens that sometimes helped people to the underworld (the last part is Korean) to sexist tales about women... and then the male Kitsune awesome for being told to be all black... got dropped out of the picture because it didn't fit with the sexist ideology. (Now everyone in Japan thinks that Kitsune are white... also in Korea... but originally there were color divisions to distinguish)

http://www.coyotes.org/kitsune/ <-- has references and more myths.

I'm certainly not into making any sexist statements about women with my fox spirits (or any sexual statements of any sort), but I appreciate the information on how the tales changed over time; I can beware when reading the later ones what the agenda in them might have been, and compare with the earlier ones.

At the moment, I'm going with the idea that the prophet/god character is a PoC who saved a group of people that will culminate in a cosmopolitan culture (Mediterranean, think more Sicily before Charles of Anjou or the forced resettlement of the Muslim communities by Frederick Hohenstaufen). The fox spirits mainly associated with the religion are descendants from more normal foxes that only took to furthering their existence after the prophet/god makes his sacrifice; that is to say, where he originally came from there was already a long tradition of fox spirits, and he travelled to a place where the foxes did not seize on the opportunity for becoming more than just animals (it took his act to make them realise they could do more with their lives).

Lots to work out and lots to research.

Kaidonni
03-29-2014, 05:47 PM
I thought I'd bump this old topic after reading the more recent posts in the Cultural Appropriation thread started by Nondeplume (no point in starting an entirely new thread).

I'm basically divided between making the culture populated by white/European people or more based on South-east Asian culture and with PoC populating the culture. The main problem is that in both cases I'm inspired by fox folklore of China and Japan, and I definitely want to avoid cultural appropriation in either case; foxes living for a very long time (up to a thousand years and more), able to transform as they get older, some even serving a higher being.

One possibility if I go with a culture populated by white/European people is to have it so that the foxes of their lands mostly used to be simple animals, the rare few possessing powers, and one in particular sought out other foxes with powers, discovered them in a distant land, learnt as much as possible from them and returned home to teach other foxes.

My concern if I make the culture distinctly Asian is in copying the mythology too closely and mucking everything up royally. I have ideas that touch on the Japanese Creation Myth, using key elements of the story of Izanami and Izanagi. I don't wish to make an analogue of any Asian culture, but the danger is definitely there, and it opens up a whole series of issues.

I know about researching, and I've been able to research Japanese fox folklore to a great extent (some great resources online - certainly the Book of Kitsune, which kept stories about female foxes seducing men to a minimum).

I just feel I need to discuss this with other people.

kuwisdelu
03-30-2014, 12:34 AM
I'm basically divided between making the culture populated by white/European people or more based on South-east Asian culture and with PoC populating the culture.

Why does it have to be an either/or with extremes on both sides?

Personally, I'd prefer having another book with a PoC culture in it. Although you're clearly influenced by Chinese and Japanese mythology, why does that mean you have to make it "distinctly Asian"?

Remember you're writing fantasy, and part of the fun of that is making things up. Why not write a culture influenced by Asian cultures, but is clearly a different culture? I think that's what you want to do, but are afraid of accidentally writing an Asian culture copy-paste, right?

Unfortunately, this is the part where you have to use your imagination. Difficult, I know. Avoid any easy copy-pastes. Don't let them use swords that look like katana or wear anything resembling kimono. Try to build from scratch. Take the part that interests you that mythology and build a new culture from that.

Kaidonni
03-30-2014, 11:06 PM
Thank you for the reply.

To be completely honest, making them anything other than PoC feels wrong to me, as if I'm forcing it. I have juggled various ideas about, but they feel contrived. The issue of cultural appropriation is a veritable minefield, and discussing the choices available to me helps quite a bit.

I'll definitely go forward with that mindset - no easy copy-pastes.