Dancing rabbits

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

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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!