Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Most people have heard of the Man in the Moon, but I have to admit that when I look up and baroo at the moon, I cannot exactly figure out where the face of this man is supposed to be.  And I especially don't understand what he's doing up there unless he's spying on everybody on earth.  So that's why I was excited to learn about the Rabbit in the Moon, and to see pictures that show exactly where this rabbit is, because the Moon Rabbit really does look like a rabbit to me.

The Chinese were some of the first people to recognize the rabbit that lives on the moon.  He is mentioned in a poem from the Warring States period, which says that there is a rabbit who is constantly pounding herbs for the immortals.  And also there is a toad, but I don't know anything about the toad.  Later on, in the Han Dynasty, the poets called this rabbit on the moon the Jade Rabbit or the Gold Rabbit.

The story about the moon rabbit goes like this:  There were once a monkey, an otter, a jackal, and a rabbit.  And they all decided they would do charitable things on the day of the full moon.  So when an old man came along and begged for food, the monkey gathered fruit for him from the trees.  The otter brought him fish, and the jackal went out and stole a lizard and a pot of milk-curd to give to the beggar.  But the rabbit told the old man that he only knew how to gather grass, which he did not think the man would want to eat.  Then the rabbit threw himself on the fire so that the man could have a nice meal of roasted rabbit.

But the rabbit did not get burned!  And the reason for that was because the old man turned out to be a god named Sakra.  He was so touched by the rabbit's virtue that he drew a picture of the rabbit on the moon so that everyone could always see it.

The Aztecs, in ancient Mexico, also had a legend about the rabbit in the moon.  In this story, the god Quetzalcoatl, who was living on earth as a man, went on a trip.  And after he had walked a long ways, he was so hungry and thirsty that he thought he would die.  There was a rabbit grazing nearby, and this rabbit offered himself as food to save Quetzalcoatl's life.  The god was so moved that he raised the rabbit up to the moon and brought him back to earth again.  Then he told the rabbit that everyone would remember him forever because his image would be up there shining on the moon.

Another group that had a story about a rabbit being on the moon was the Cree tribe of North America.  In their tale, the rabbit wanted to ride the moon.  Nobody would take him up there except the crane, and the rabbit hung onto the crane's legs during the journey.  This is why the crane has such long legs.  And the rabbit is still up there riding the moon, to this very day.

Now it's time for another little vocabulary lesson.  When people see faces or animals on the moon or in other places, this is called pareidolia (which is pronounced pear eye DOH lee uh).  Another example of pareidolia is when people see something like the face of Jesus or the Virgin Mary on a tortilla.  Which just goes to show that there are all sorts of people and animals watching you, wherever you look, so you'd better behave yourself and not pick your nose or do things you're not supposed to.  Just in case.


  1. oh, I see that rabbit! Mom says the first one looks like a platypus, but what does she know?

    --Zest, superstar in training

  2. I don't know much about platypuses (platypi?), so I will have to stick with the rabbit picture being in the moon. I just wish it was closer, so that we could chase that rabbit! I wonder if he tastes like green cheese.

    Your friend, Piper

  3. EEK! I would never let anyone eat me!
    If it was a god and I knew, then I'd ask him if I could become real with eternal life. And always to stay pretty as I am now. Is that too much to ask?


  4. I think that is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask for from a god. Of course, the moon rabbit didn't know that the old man was a god at first, so it was very noble of him to offer to let the old man eat him. I don't think I could be that noble, though. I would just let the man starve!