Hồ Tinh: The Nine Tailed Fox

Background: This informant is an American-Born Vietnamese student who has grown up hearing and participating in classical Vietnamese Folklore.

Me: When did you first hear the story of Hồ Tinh?

TT: When I was in High School, I remember my parents talking about their belief in spirits, my Mom has always been a believer, my Dad on the other hand was a skeptic. However, he mentioned an experience he had with Hồ Tinh. A couple years prior my Dad woke up in the middle of the night and all he could remember was feeling a heavy animal-like presence on his torso and legs. He said that he couldn’t move, almost like sleep paralysis, until the morning and ever since then he has believed that it was an omen from Hồ Tinh.

Me: What is the actual story behind Hồ Tinh?

TT: From what I remember, Hồ Tinh was an evil Nine-tailed fox spirit who lived in a cave and fed on humans. He would deceive village men by disguising himself as a beautiful woman and would bring them back to his cave to get eaten. One day a warrior in the village, knowing of Hồ Tinh deceits, followed Hồ Tinh back to the cave in an attempt to kill him and to save the villagers who were still alive. After a long battle, the fox eventually lost to the warrior and the village was saved.

Analysis: I found this folklore interesting as when comparing to another piece of collected folklore, the story of Da Ji (a Chinese fox spirit), we can note that throughout the two different cultures, the fox as symbolic of deception and slyness remains, this connection is furthered by the fact that the deception of foxes is seduction in the form of a beautiful maiden. This may have to do with how interconnected the cultures of Vietnam and China are, but it is still interesting to note this connection.