Thu, Feb 03, 2011 - Page 9 News List

Get into the festive spirit: the year of the rabbit is here
百兔慶新年

“One Hundred Lucky Rabbits” paper cuttings, one of the 12 posters featured in the book.
「百兔呈祥」剪紙海報。

Photo courtesy of Eco Publishing Co., Ltd.
照片由漢聲出版社提供

The year of the rabbit kicks off today, but auspicious rabbit-themed books, ornaments, costumes, and other items have been on sale for months. Eco Publishing Co., Ltd. has also published a poster book titled Spending the Rabbit Year in Grandeur 《大過兔年》.

The preface of the book says that, “Rabbits in the wild are very agile. They have long ears, and so have acute hearing, they are nimble, with quick reactions, and they are fast runners. These features make rabbits a perfect symbol for the increasing speed of fiber-optics in the new year.”

The Shuowen Jiezi《說文解字》, the earliest Chinese character dictionary, dating from the East Han period in the early 2nd century, explains the word “yi” (逸), the word for “rapid,” in terms of one of its radicals, rabbit, “tu” (兔). In other words, people felt even back in ancient times that the most prominent characteristic of rabbits was their speed. Modern science has shown that a rabbit can run at speeds of 70km per hour, at least as fast as a horse. The Chinese simile “as fast as a rabbit in flight” (動如脫兔) is clearly based in fact.

Rabbits were domesticated by humans later than other animals, such as horses, oxen, goats, fowl, dogs, and pigs. Nevertheless, given their mild and friendly disposition, the rabbit has been elevated to the status of an auspicious animal.

The Lantern Festival, which begins on Jan. 17 this year, will feature a masterpiece lantern titled “Lucky Jade Rabbit” (玉兔呈祥). The jade rabbit is one of the earliest objects of worship celebrated during the Mid-Autumn Festival, going back to ancient times, but it was later replaced by the Chinese legend of Chang-e (嫦娥), the girl in the moon. According to folklore, Chang-e then also became a goddess of childbirth, perhaps thanks to the connection with the rabbit, as rabbits are known for being prodigiously fertile.

The book features a total of 12 posters designed to bring good luck and happiness. They include woodblock prints of “The Door God Shen Shu” and “The Door God Yu Lyu,” paper cuttings of “Best Wishes for a Propitious New Year” and “Auspicious Bunny,” posters of “Chronology of the Rabbit in Chinese Cultural History” and “One Hundred Lucky Rabbits,” a folk art painting entitled “Happy Rabbits Ushering in the Year of the Rabbit,” another group of paper floral cuttings called “Ten Flower-Clusters,” and woodblock prints of “Harmony Brings Fortune” and “He He Twin Deities.” Then there are some examples of stylized Chinese calligraphy called “Artistic Renditions of Chinese Characters in the Folk Art Tradition,” and paper cuttings entitled “Four Flower-Cluster,” an indigo dye print illustrating “The Deer and Crane Announcing the Coming of Spring,” and clay figurines of “The Rabbit Lord.”

— Written and compiled by Lin Ya-ti, Taipei Times

今天正式進入兔年的第一天,不過跟兔子相關的書籍、裝飾品、服飾等商品在數月前就隨處可見,率先炒熱兔年氣氛,漢聲出版社也出版《大過兔年》海報書。

在書中的序寫道,「在自然界裡,兔子極為靈敏。牠的長耳擅於捕捉信息,頭腦反應快,腿腳出動迅速;象徵新的一年,光纖資訊傳遞更為快速。」

西元二世紀初,中國東漢時期的一本字典《說文解字》,以「兔」解釋「逸」字,意即飛奔,可見古人早認為兔子最大特點在於奔跑;現代科學發現,兔的奔跑時速可達七十多公里,比馬有過之而無不及,「動如脫兔」一語可謂其來有據。

兔子與人類的關係不若包含馬、牛、羊、雞、狗與豬的「六畜」久遠,卻以其溫順和善,被作為祥瑞動物而受到崇拜。

今年一月十七日舉辦的「台灣燈會」主燈「玉兔呈祥」中的玉兔,根據《大過兔年》的描述,玉兔是中秋的祭祀對象之一,最早的拜月即是拜玉兔;後來誕生了嫦娥奔月的故事,嫦娥取代玉兔的地位,月中女神還成為民間的生育之神,這又得歸功於兔子 — 牠的生育力和老鼠一樣無與倫比。

十二張大海報每張都洋溢著吉祥美意。「大門神神荼」木版畫、「大門神鬱壘」木版畫、「新年吉祥」與「吉祥兔娃」剪紙、「兔文化圖錄」與「百兔呈祥」海報、「歡樂兔」農民畫、「十團花」剪紙、「和氣致祥」與「和合二仙」木版畫、「吉祥文字」、「四團花」剪紙、「鹿鶴同春」藍印花布門簾與「兔兒爺來報到」泥塑等。

This story has been viewed 5033 times.
TOP top