Dancing rabbits

I’ve been doing some research around Japanese legends and imagery.

Screen shot 2014-12-06 at 4.45.04 PM

It was all sparked off by the furoshiki I’m using as a centrepiece for Worldwide Friends. It features hares or rabbits bounding across waves under a crescent moon. I’ve seen many examples of Japanese textiles which show rabbits below a moon, in conjunction with flowers, grasses or waves, and I wanted to know why… It’s an unusual juxtaposition to a European eye.

There’s a lovely legend about a rabbit which offers a supreme act of kindness and self sacrifice to a stranger, and is rewarded by being taken up to the moon when the stranger turns out to be a deity. The Japanese consider that the shape seen in the moon is a rabbit and not, as Western eyes see it, a man. Historically, moon gazing festivals were held in Japan to behold the beauty of the full moon in the eighth calendar month of the year, and there was a great deal of rabbit symbolism associated with this, including ceramics of moon-gazing rabbits, and rabbit shaped sweet treats.

I find the idea of the simple, generous rabbit lovely, and his frolics across my quilt centrepiece made me want to add something else, in text rather than fabric. What else could it be but a haiku? The rules for haiku are simple: 17 syllables long, in three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables each, expressed in the present tense and about a natural subject…

Here we go:

rabbit dances on

the moon’s straight and shining path

along lake’s bright ripples

Meanwhile, the stitching continues.  A corner of the centrepiece frame has come together.

Maybe I’ll put the haiku on the label. It’s not much good, but I enjoyed composing it!

18 thoughts on “Dancing rabbits

  1. knettycraft says:

    Oh I love legends… and I love haiku … this is now my first one in English:
    rabbits in moonshine
    keep an eye on worldwide friends
    connect in hexies
    ok… I don’t know if the grammar is correct… but this is what came in my mind right now. 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      That’s very clever, and works just fine in English! You know, I may have to have haiku on the back of the quilt… I’d planned to make the back red with a bit of white, so perhaps I can insert white squares with haiku embroidered on them. Please may I use this one?

  2. EllaDee says:

    I love moon gazing, the idea of moon gazing hopping rabbits and as the full moon is soon will look for the rabbit up there 🙂
    Both haiku are fabulous.

    • katechiconi says:

      You’re great with words, would you like to contribute too? I feel this quilt is becoming a communal effort, and I love the idea of everyone’s different approach building a bigger overall story.

  3. The idea of using a haiku on the quilt label never occurred to me before, but I’ve grabbed it with both hands (having written hundreds of them!. Both yours and Knottycraft’s are superb.

  4. tialys says:

    What a great idea. Here’s my offering

    On a soft lit night
    Lunar rabbits crest the waves
    To delight the moon

  5. Not up to haiku at the moment… I’m feeling glum but the rabbits have cheered me up a bit.

  6. How wonderful and have enjoyed reading everyone’s contributions!

  7. Lynda says:

    Somehow, I missed this great post. I liked your Haiku, Kate. The idea is to make the last line a surprise. The fact the rabbit danced the shining path on lake’s ripples is enchanting and really matches the theme of your fabric print!
    On a different note, I have a two yard piece of fabric my Father-in-law brought home from Japan in the early 60’s. It is a beautiful print but done oddly. (I think it might have been intended to be an Obi) May I send you a picture of it and maybe get some ideas from you about how to use it? Let me know: farmlet(at)att(dot)net 😀

  8. katechiconi says:

    Hi Lynda, I’ve sent you an email – I’d be delighted to offer some suggestions once I’ve seen a photo.

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