Friday, October 23, 2009


The rabbit is one of the twelve Chinese zodiac signs, which gives Chinese artists a good excuse to make pictures of  rabbits.  Here is a painting by an artist named Cui Bo that was made in 1061, a year that happened a long, long time ago.  The last Year of the Rabbit was 1999, and the next one will be in 2011, so if you want to have a Rabbit year baby, you should maybe start planning now.  Rabbit year people are generally very nice.  They are kind and friendly and smart.  But they can also be moody and afraid to take risks.

I myself was born in the Year of the Horse, which means I can be headstrong, energetic, and talkative.  But I am supposed to be talking about rabbits, not horses, so that's all I will say about the Year of the Horse!

Anyway, here's another Chinese painting of rabbits.  It was made during the Qing Dynasty, in the 18th century.  The artist's name is Leng Mei.  As you can see, these rabbits are white.  They don't look anything like the Eastern Cottontail rabbits, but maybe Chinese rabbits are white.  Sometimes people keep white rabbits as pets, but I don't know where these white rabbits come from.  In my research, I learned that pet rabbits are usually European rabbits.  They are much bigger than Eastern Cottontails, which means they have lots more yummy meat, if you happen to get to eat one.

Throughout history, there have been many famous rabbits.  For instance, there's Br'er Rabbit, and there's the Easter Bunny, and of course there's Bugs Bunny.  Bugs Bunny has appeared on TV many times, so most everybody knows who he is.  Usually, he is eating a carrot, and he says, "Eh, what's up, Doc?"  Sometimes he says other stuff too.  And he talks funny, like he comes from the Bronx or Brooklyn or some weird place like that.  Also he is always outsmarting Elmer Fudd, who keeps trying to shoot him.

Bugs Bunny is much smarter than the rabbit in the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.  Maybe you know this story, which was written by Mr. Aesop, who wrote the Dog in the Manger story that I told you about before.  In the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, the hare makes fun of the tortoise because he is slow, so the tortoise challenges the hare to a race.  This seems like a stupid thing for the tortoise to do, but the hare is so sure he will win the race that he stops to take a nap, and the tortoise actually wins.  The moral of this story is:  Slow and steady wins the race.

Well, I am not sure that this moral is always true because for example if you are in a race to catch a rabbit so you can eat it, you need to go really fast, not "slow and steady."  This is how sighthounds hunt, in a fast burst of speed.  None of that "slow and steady" stuff for us!

When Mom went to Van Liew's with Aunt Cheryl, she bought a rabbit for us so that we will always have one in our garden.  This rabbit is very cute, but it is not edible, which is a serious shortcoming in a rabbit.  Anyway, Mom put the rabbit in her flower garden, so maybe it will attract some real rabbits that can actually be caught and eaten.

Here's another nice painting of rabbits that I found.  It was made by a man named Carl Oswald Rostosk in 1861.  I think the two rabbits are wondering if they should challenge the turtle to a race, except if they know the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, they might be afraid that the turtle would win.

But this last painting is the best one of all because it shows a dog that has caught a rabbit and will probably be eating it soon.  This dog is called a Landseer Newfoundland.  It is different from a regular Newfoundland because it is black-and-white instead of just black.  In some countries, the Landseer and the Newfoundland are two different breeds, but in the U.S., they are all lumped together as one breed.

The reason that the black-and-white Newfoundland got to be called "Landseer" was because of the artist Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, who painted this picture and lots of other pictures of this kind of dog.  People liked the pictures a whole bunch, so they started calling the dogs Landseers.  But anyway, the important point, as I mentioned before, is that the dog has caught a rabbit, and this shows that Mr. Landseer understood a lot about dogs, which means he was a very good person.  I wish I could have known him, but he's dead now, so it's too late, and that's kind of sad.


  1. In the Rostosky painting the rabbits are looking at t hedgehog, not a turtle.

    1. Oh! I think you are right! You have very good eyes -- or else you've seen a lot of hedgehogs, which I have not.

      Thanks for pointing this out.

      Sincerely, Piper