Saturday, July 30, 2011

Just who exactly is Moon Hare / Jade Rabbit anyway?

hare with mortar and pestle in full moon
This character from Chinese folklore is known as 月兔 (usually translated as Moon Rabbit) or 玉兔 (commonly translated as Jade Rabbit). But while researching animal references for this illustration, I realized that the Chinese 月兔 was most likely NOT a rabbit ;-) Why? Because rabbits are not indigenous to China.1 There are rabbits in Southeast Asia and parts of Japan though.1

China, however, does have a number of native hare species.2 The rabbit/hare confusion in translation started with people applying the term 兔 tu to both indigenous hares and imported rabbits.3

Third century Chinese statesman and author Fu Xuan wrote about the Moon Hare in Ni Tian Wen: "What is in the moon? A white hare pounding medicine with a pestle." 4 Of the indigenous hare species living in/near China, only Lepus Timidus (aka Mountain Hare, Blue Hare, White Hare) has a white coat. (in winter)2  So this species conveniently became my reference for the Moon Hare.

So who exactly is Moon Hare/Jade Hare?

There seems to be no consensus, not even about the animal's gender. In one Beijing legend, Jade Hare  engages in repeated 'cross-dressing', casually switching between male and female attire (but more on that later ;-)

Some different versions of the Jade Hare myth:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Through the Gate

Woman flying through cyber portal

Influences: Ghost in the Shell meets Mangbetu style ;-)

Background graphics inspired by Mangbetu mural painting; character design inspired by (but not intended to be an authentic representation of) Mangbetu body painting and hairstyling.