This exhibition presents sixteen remarkable Chinese works illustrating how rabbits have been a prominent artistic subject since ancient times. Their earliest depictions are featured on jade pendants and sacred ritual bronze vessels dating from China’s Shang (ca. 1600–1048 BCE) and Western Zhou (ca. 1046–771 BCE) dynasties.
A popular figure in literature and folklore, a rabbit is believed to inhabit the moon and assist the goddess Chang’e by preparing her elixir of immortality, as shown on the back of an eighth- to ninth-century bronze mirror as well as on a nineteenth-century embroidered silk mirror case. Also on view are images of the zodiac animals in jade and ceramics that were meant to adorn people’s homes as well as dispel harmful influences.
Image: Detail from Vase, China, Ming dynasty (1368–1644), Porcelain painted in cobalt blue under a transparent glaze, H. 23 in. (58.4 cm) / courtesy of The Met