Antique Chinese Porcelain collector's expert page, Ming, dynasty, Chinese porcelain marks

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Hare, Moon-hare, Rabbit

Late Ming dynasty hare marks

Late Ming dynasty porcelain 'Hare' marks. Source: Hobson's 1962 book "The wares of the Ming dynasty".

Hare or Rabbit is a symbol of longevity and East. It is believed to grind the ingredients of the elixir of longevity on the moon. It is also the forth animal in the Chinese calendar.

According to Daoist legend, a jade-white hare or rabbit lives on the moon, grinding the elixir of immortality with a pestle and mortar. The elixir was believed to have been stolen from the archer Yi by Lady Chang-E, who fed with it to the moon.

A Buddhist story provides another explanation of how the rabbit came to live on the moon.

The Buddha arrived in a forest, exhausted and hungry after many days of traveling. All the animals came to him bringing the foods that they usually gathered for themselves. The rabbit intended to bring fresh green grass and leaves, but when he found them, he ate them himself. The rabbit was consumed by guilt and going to the Buddha admitted his folly and offered that the Buddha could eat him instead. The Buddha was so touched by this gesture that he bestowed upon the rabbit the gift of eternal life on the moon. Rabbits are therefore associated with long life.

See also: zodiac.

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