Tengu Riding a Fox
This is a little statue that I picked up the other day:
It is of a tengu riding a fox. I find it interesting that it is carrying the traditional implements of Fudo Myoo, the patron of the Mikkyo sects. These are the coil of rope in the left hand and the sword in the right.
Wikipedia has this to say about tengu:
Tengu are a class of supernatural creatures found in Japanese folklore, art, theater, and literature. They are one of the best known yōkai (monster-spirits) and are sometimes worshipped as Shinto kami (revered spirits or gods). Although they take their name from a dog-like Chinese demon, the tengu were originally thought to take the forms of birds of prey, and they are traditionally depicted with both human and avian characteristics. The earliest tengu were pictured with beaks, but this feature has often been humanized as an unnaturally long nose, which today is practically the tengu's defining characteristic in the popular imagination. Buddhism long held that the tengu were disruptive demons and harbingers of war. Their image gradually softened, however, into one of protective, if still dangerous, spirits of the mountains and forests. Tengu are associated with the ascetic practice known as Shugendō, and they are usually depicted in the distinctive garb of its followers, the yamabushi.
Read the article if you are interested. It’s actually pretty good.
Of course, Fox spirits (kitsune) are also very well known in Japanese as powerful beings and often tricksters as well.
The inscription on the back of the piece reads “The central Akiba worship, Sanjyakubou Daigongen, Enshu (feudal name of Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan), Kasuisai (temple)” in Japanese (according to its seller since my Japanese doesn’t exist…).
This picture is one of my favorites from Japan of a Tengu: