The Rabbit on the Moon

Photo above from Pexels Free Photos.

Can you see a rabbit silhouette on the picture of the full Moon?  Different cultures around the world have found one or more rabbits hidden in the dark spots of the lunarscape since ancient times.  In Fray Bernardino de Sahagún’s “La Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva España” – “The General History of the Things of New Spain”, also known as The Florentine Codex, Sahagún dedicates Book VII to celestial bodies and natural phenomena; in particular, chapter 2 refers to the Moon, its phases, and the origin of the rabbit on its face, as interpreted by a native Pre-Hispanic origin story:

Rabbit on the moon drawing and fable (web capture, Florentine Codex, Book VII, Chapter 2.)

“The fable of the rabbit, which is on the moon, is this:  It is said that the gods were mocking the moon, and slapped its face with a rabbit, and hence the rabbit remained marked on the face, darkening it, like a cardinal.  Afterwards, the moon went out to light the world.”

This is supposed to have been the way for the gods to moderate the light of the moon’s white face, so that it would be just pétillant and not as bright as the sparkling Sun.  

Below, is my interpretation of Sahagún’s drawing of the rabbit on the moon:

In Asian cultures, the Moon rabbit is seen pounding the contents of a vessel; in China and Vietnam, the vessel contains the elixir of life, while in Japanese and Korean mythology, the rabbit is pounding glutinous rice, to make rice cakes.  In the photo below, my interpretation of this scene:

Can you see other rabbit shapes?  Below, left, the one I always saw when I was a child, and right, a crouching bunny:

The Lunar New Year’s Day took place on January 22, and according to the Chinese Zodiac, 2023 is a Year of the Rabbit.  People born on a Year of the Rabbit are supposed to be multi-talented and affectionate, try to avoid conflict and criticism, and seek peace and the appreciation of tranquillity. 

FUN FACT:  Popular Manga character Sailor Moon has an epigrammatic human name: her first name is Usagi -Rabbit, and her last name Tsukino – of the Moon; in Japanese fashion it reads as Tsukino Usagi – Moon Rabbit.

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