With my research on Kitsune ideas still underway, I believe that I should start getting straight into researching my second animal within mythology: wolves. Like foxes, wolves are another one of my favourite animals, and thus I feel a bit more of a personal connection to them compared to other ideas. Plus, wolves are a massively popular animal within dozens of folktales and mythologies, many of which are still widely known and still read today.
Wolves have always been well known for their predator/hunter status across every culture they existed within, which often led to them being fairly hated out of fear of people and their farm animals losing their lives. One of the most famous stories featuring said depictions of the wolf was the classical European story of “Little Red Riding Hood”, the story of a little girl in a red hood and her dangerous encounter with the “Big Bad Wolf”.
The story itself originated somewhere with the 10th century, either within Europe and Italy. The story itself has had over a dozen variations of the original with elements and characters added or changed with each new edition. The most famous version of the story were written by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm. The typical storyline however goes as follows:
Litte Red Riding Hood (or just Red Riding Hood) is asked by her mother to bring a basket of treats (bread/cake/wine) to her ill grandmother. During her journey she is secretly stalked by the Big Bad Wolf, who wants to eat both her and the basket of treats. After approaching Red Riding Hood she naively tells him that she is visiting her grandmother and thus he tricks her into picking some flowers while he visits her instead. After either swallowing the grandmother whole or locking in a cupboard (depending on the story) he disguises himself as her and waits for Red Riding Hood to arrive. After finally reaching the house, Red Riding Hood begins to note her “grandmother’s” very large features before noting her very large mouth, at which point the wolf reveals himself.
Depending of the variation of the story you are reading, there are 3 operate ending which could take place. In Charles Perrault’s version of the story the wolf eats Red Riding Hood and falls asleep before the story ends. In the French and Brothers Grimm versions of stories however, Red Riding Hood and her grandmother are saved by a nearby woodcutter/hunter, who slices open the wolf’s stomach and free the two (or he simply steps in before the wolf eats Red Riding Hood and frees the grandmother from the belly/cupboard).
Being possibly one of the most iconic storybook fables of european history, it feels almost right to use a piece of folklore like this for my final piece. I honestly originally forgot that the story of Little Red Riding Hood was even folklore, as I grown up so used to the idea that it was just a storybook fairy tale read to children. It was only until I talked to someone about the project that I was reminded about how many modern stories were originated/inspired by classical folktales used to entertain/educate/frighten young children from doing misdeeds.
Not only will the story of Little Red Riding Hood be a fitting edition to my current illustration ideas, but it will possibly be (one of) the most recognisable of them all, as practically everyone knows the story within this county and the visuals of a large menacing wolf and red hooded girl will immediately be understood by anyone who has ever been read the story as a child (or any other point in their life).