Fox Marble(狐狸珠子)

Fox Marble

Headword

여우구슬 ( 狐狸珠子 , Yeouguseul )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer ChoiWono(崔元午)

“Yeouguseul” is the tale of a student who manages to steal the fox woman’s marble but because he looked down at the ground instead of looking up at the sky, his knowledge became constricted to the ways of the earth and not the heavens.

This oral narrative is transmitted in two different types:

The first type features a young student whose health continued declining, and when his teacher asked what was the matter, he explained that when he was walking in the mountains, a woman appeared and kissed him, grabbing his ears, and ever since, he had felt ill. The teacher asked the boy if something entered his mouth when the woman kissed him, and told him that if the same thing happened again, he should bring the thing that entered his mouth to the teacher. But the student demanded that the teacher explain what that thing was, or he would not bring it to the teacher. The teacher explained that the woman was a white fox, and that if a person swallowed the marble inside of her mouth and looked up at the sky, the person would gain an understanding of the ways of the heavens, and if he looked down at the ground, the person would gain an understanding of the ways of the earth. The following day when the white fox kissed him, the student swallowed the marble that entered his mouth, but thinking that understanding the heavens was no use to him, he looked down at the ground, and the student gained a clear understanding of the earth and became a competent geomancer.

The second type combines the gumiho (nine- tailed fox) motif. A long time ago, in a rural village, there was a large village school attended by a hundred students who sometimes camped together in the large hall when their lessons ended late. One night, a fox transformed herself into a beautiful girl and visited the school to fulfill her mission to kiss one hundred students, which would send her to the heavens. She was able to kiss ninety-nine students, but one had realized what was going on and hid himself. The girl searched for the last student but gave up and left, and the student who had been hiding followed her and discovered the location of her lair. As he turned back to return to the village, the girl suddenly appeared and kissed his mouth, pushing in and pulling out the marble to suck up his energy, until the student’s face turned pale. The student reminded himself of the common belief that if a person looked up at the sky before the marble melted, he would gain all the wisdom of the heavens, and if he looked down at the ground, the person would gain all the wisdom of the earth, and swallowed the marble. But the girl, startled, pushed his jaws open to retrieve the marble, which pushed him to the ground and he fainted without a chance to look up at the sky. The following morning, the student woke and with help from the villagers, killed the fox, and the student acquired the wisdom of the earth, but not that of the heavens.

There are many variations of this tale, which feature a serpent in the place of the fox, or a physician in the place of the teacher that explains to him about the fox. In some versions, the teacher instructs the student to swallow the marble and visit his house to look at books, and the student reads only geography books, through which he gains an understanding of the earth. There are other versions in which the student falls to the ground while running back after swallowing the marble, which gives him knowledge about the earth, or the teacher follows his student, who has gained knowledge of the earth and swallows the fox marble found in the student’s feces, which makes the teacher knowledgeable in the ways of the heavens. In one variation, the fox reappears and threatens that if the students does not give back the marble, he will die in three years, but the students refuses, and still lives a long life. In other versions, the fox demands that the student swallow the marble in return for knowledge of astronomy and geography; or the student, upon receiving the knowledge, is frightened, and screams, “Aigume!” and becomes a renowned singer; or the knowledge makes the student a renowned writer.

The fox in this narrative possesses both divine and devilish traits. On the surface, the fox appears to be an evil creature, but underneath the divine characteristics are also evident. In the Korean oral tradition, the fox is portrayed in a wide range of images, projecting both positive and negative concepts. In China and Japan, the fox is generally depicted as a woman of charm and wisdom, while in Korea the image is more negative.

Fox Marble

Fox Marble
Headword

여우구슬 ( 狐狸珠子 , Yeouguseul )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer ChoiWono(崔元午)

“Yeouguseul” is the tale of a student who manages to steal the fox woman’s marble but because he looked down at the ground instead of looking up at the sky, his knowledge became constricted to the ways of the earth and not the heavens.

This oral narrative is transmitted in two different types:

The first type features a young student whose health continued declining, and when his teacher asked what was the matter, he explained that when he was walking in the mountains, a woman appeared and kissed him, grabbing his ears, and ever since, he had felt ill. The teacher asked the boy if something entered his mouth when the woman kissed him, and told him that if the same thing happened again, he should bring the thing that entered his mouth to the teacher. But the student demanded that the teacher explain what that thing was, or he would not bring it to the teacher. The teacher explained that the woman was a white fox, and that if a person swallowed the marble inside of her mouth and looked up at the sky, the person would gain an understanding of the ways of the heavens, and if he looked down at the ground, the person would gain an understanding of the ways of the earth. The following day when the white fox kissed him, the student swallowed the marble that entered his mouth, but thinking that understanding the heavens was no use to him, he looked down at the ground, and the student gained a clear understanding of the earth and became a competent geomancer.

The second type combines the gumiho (nine- tailed fox) motif. A long time ago, in a rural village, there was a large village school attended by a hundred students who sometimes camped together in the large hall when their lessons ended late. One night, a fox transformed herself into a beautiful girl and visited the school to fulfill her mission to kiss one hundred students, which would send her to the heavens. She was able to kiss ninety-nine students, but one had realized what was going on and hid himself. The girl searched for the last student but gave up and left, and the student who had been hiding followed her and discovered the location of her lair. As he turned back to return to the village, the girl suddenly appeared and kissed his mouth, pushing in and pulling out the marble to suck up his energy, until the student’s face turned pale. The student reminded himself of the common belief that if a person looked up at the sky before the marble melted, he would gain all the wisdom of the heavens, and if he looked down at the ground, the person would gain all the wisdom of the earth, and swallowed the marble. But the girl, startled, pushed his jaws open to retrieve the marble, which pushed him to the ground and he fainted without a chance to look up at the sky. The following morning, the student woke and with help from the villagers, killed the fox, and the student acquired the wisdom of the earth, but not that of the heavens.

There are many variations of this tale, which feature a serpent in the place of the fox, or a physician in the place of the teacher that explains to him about the fox. In some versions, the teacher instructs the student to swallow the marble and visit his house to look at books, and the student reads only geography books, through which he gains an understanding of the earth. There are other versions in which the student falls to the ground while running back after swallowing the marble, which gives him knowledge about the earth, or the teacher follows his student, who has gained knowledge of the earth and swallows the fox marble found in the student’s feces, which makes the teacher knowledgeable in the ways of the heavens. In one variation, the fox reappears and threatens that if the students does not give back the marble, he will die in three years, but the students refuses, and still lives a long life. In other versions, the fox demands that the student swallow the marble in return for knowledge of astronomy and geography; or the student, upon receiving the knowledge, is frightened, and screams, “Aigume!” and becomes a renowned singer; or the knowledge makes the student a renowned writer.

The fox in this narrative possesses both divine and devilish traits. On the surface, the fox appears to be an evil creature, but underneath the divine characteristics are also evident. In the Korean oral tradition, the fox is portrayed in a wide range of images, projecting both positive and negative concepts. In China and Japan, the fox is generally depicted as a woman of charm and wisdom, while in Korea the image is more negative.