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Posts Tagged ‘rabbits’

Albrecht Dürer, Hare (A Young Hare), 1502, Graphische Sammlung Albertina. Image and original data: Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Albrecht Dürer, Hare (A Young Hare), 1502, Graphische Sammlung Albertina. Image and original data: Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Easter is around the corner, and with it comes the inevitable barrage of images of the Easter bunny. The strange thing is that the only mentions of rabbits in the Bible are prohibitions against eating them in the Old Testament. So what gives?

The underlying idea is that rabbits are connected to the idea of rebirth—not only do they reproduce prodigiously, at one time they were believed to reproduce asexually. The connection of rabbits to rebirth also occurs in non-Christian societies: The Rabbit in the Moon (instead of our Man in the Moon) is a familiar symbol in Asia, and was part of Aztec legend, tying the idea of rabbits to a “rebirth” every night. But other qualities of rabbits and hares also get highlighted in folklore, including their mischievous side, playing the role of cunning tricksters in Native American and Central African mythologies. (more…)

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Giotto | Saint Francis Preaching to the Birds, predella of Saint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmatta | c. 1295-1300 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y. ; artres.com

Giotto | Saint Francis Preaching to the Birds, predella of Saint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmatta | c. 1295-1300 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y. ; artres.com

October 4 is generally recognized as the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, patron of the animals, steward of nature, and author of the Canticle of the Creatures.  In a divinely ordained cosmos, Francis considered all elements – sun, moon, and stars, water and fire, and the animals – our sisters and brothers, and he is often depicted and described preaching to the birds, as in Giotto’s panel shown here, 1295-1300.  The cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York famously marks his feast day with the blessing of the animals (this year the closest Sunday falls on Oct. 6).  Thousands of creatures, from tortoises to camels, process though the nave, gather in the yard, and are blessed by clergy.  This scene is replayed throughout churches around the globe, a celebration of the beasts that surround us and enhance our lives.

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