Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rabbits Everywhere and More Rabbit Lore

Since I am talking about rabbits today, Rabbits Everywhere by Alicia Ezpeleta is a great book about rabbits in general, not just the Easter variety. It discusses a lot of folklore and traditions. I'm including its original cover (which I own) and the newer one which may appear too precious to those wanting a reliable book about rabbits although it's not. To date, it is the best book about rabbits in world history that I have found. It is a coffee table book more than academic text, but the inside is not twee. Instead it is informational and beautiful with many wonderful images.

At once clever and foolish, brave and cowardly, cute and frightening, chaste and sexual, rabbits have represented almost every strength -- and weakness -- known to humankind. Rabbits Everywhere gathers some of the most cuddly, speedy, procreative, and ferocious rabbits ever seen. Alicia Ezpeleta explores the surprisingly complex lore and mystique surrounding rabbits, placing the animals in cultural, artistic, and popular context. The illustrations bring to life all the great hares of history: the Easter Bunny, the March Hare, Br'er Rabbit, Bugs Bunny, Roger Rabbit, and Harvey, to name but a few. Rabbits are also pictured in Egyptian hieroglyphs and medieval tapestries, on Roman coins and Art Deco posters, in fine jewelry and contemporary paintings -- and on carousels, all sorts of toys, and in classic children's books.

Also visit The Three Hares Project:

The Three Hares Project is researching and documenting an ancient symbol of three hares or rabbits running in a circle and joined by their ears which form a triangle at the centre of the design. The symbol is a puzzle for each creature appears to have two ears yet, between them, they share only three ears.

The Project has revealed the motif to be an extraordinary and ancient archetype, stretching across diverse religions and cultures, many centuries and many thousands of miles. It is part of the shared medieval heritage of Europe and Asia (Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism) yet still inspires creative work among contemporary artists.

The images shown here reveal the beauty of the design in varied contexts. The accompanying text highlights the remarkable story of the three hares.

And for a great online article, see The Symbolism of Rabbits and Hares by Terri Windling at Endicott Studio. (She references the Ezpeleta book, too.)

Rabbits have always been one of my favorite animals, if not my favorite, for reasons I'm still somewhat unsure of since the pop culture explanations do not fit me very well. I know they never frightened me as many other animals did due in part to my petless childhood home. I collected ceramic ones as a child and am still susceptible to those long, floppy ears. These days I appreciate the dichotomy of their symbolism and their rich history in folklore, too.

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