Although it is already known that the earliest rabbit-shaped jade objects appeared in the Neolithic Age, and the earliest bronze rabbit statues appeared in the Jin Dynasty, where did the Chinese rabbits come from?

In a recent interview with West China Metropolis Daily and Cover News, Lu Peng, deputy director of the Science and Technology Archeology Center of the Institute of Archeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told reporters that at present, there is no unified conclusion in the academic circle.

  There are different opinions about the origin of domestic rabbits in China

  Among the hundreds of animal remains unearthed across the country, there are 79 sites with rabbit remains.

From a geographical point of view, there are mostly archaeological sites unearthed rabbit remains throughout the country.

These sites stretch from Shandong in the east to Xinjiang and Tibet in the west, from Heilongjiang in the north to Guangdong in the south, and are mainly concentrated in the Yellow River and Yangtze River basins.

"From the perspective of time span, most of these sites are from the Neolithic Age, and there are also Xia, Shang, Zhou and Han dynasties." Lu Peng said that the academic circles have a relatively consistent view on the origin of domestic rabbits around the world, that is, the ancestors of domestic rabbits were As for the rabbit, "From the point of view of bone morphology, the skull of the domestic rabbit is very similar to that of the rabbit; from the point of view of genetics, the rabbit and the rabbit are genetically linked, and the rabbit and the rabbit cannot reproduce when they mate; from the geographical distribution It is said that the original distribution area of ​​wild European rabbits was in the Iberian Peninsula and southern France, while the domestication of domestic rabbits originated in France 500 years ago; from the perspective of ecological habits, rabbits and rabbits have the habit of digging burrows .”

However, there is no unified view in the academic circles about the origin of the Chinese rabbit.

"Its views can be roughly divided into three categories: local domestication theory, foreign introduction theory, and local domestication plus foreign introduction theory." Lu Peng said that the lepods in my country are basically all rabbits, and there are rare coarse hairs. Rabbits are wild animals.

There are no wild rabbits in our country.

Among the three different views, Lu Peng believes that the possibility of foreign introduction of domestic rabbits in China is more likely.

"The wild ancestor of the domestic rabbit is the rabbit, but there are no remains of the rabbit unearthed in China. It can be considered that the domestic rabbit in China is mainly introduced from outside sources." Lu Peng explained that although there are a lot of historical documents before the Ming Dynasty in China about rabbits According to archaeological records, there are rabbit cages, rabbit gardens and other equipment and places to restrain rabbits. However, rabbits are mainly hunting and entertainment objects. Humans control and use rabbits very loosely. Therefore, it can be considered that most of the documents recorded are hares. .

"Chinese wild rabbits are not suitable for domestication. They are difficult to reproduce under the conditions of breeding. They are timid but rebellious. Most of the domestic rabbit breeds in China were introduced in the Ming Dynasty, mainly Ouyuan rabbits, including Yayuan rabbits," Lu Peng added , "Of course, Chinese ancestors also domesticated and raised breeds such as Himalayan rabbits."

The white rabbit we see now appears as an auspicious animal in historical documents, and the ancients regarded it as a symbol of peace and prosperity, respect for the elderly and longevity.

"From a zoological point of view, this kind of white rabbit may be a wild rabbit with albinism or a white fur in a certain season, not a domesticated rabbit." Lu Peng said.

  The white rabbit is considered an auspicious omen

  "In Chinese cultural tradition, rabbits are related to the phases of the moon," Lu Peng said.

Qu Yuan wrote in "Songs of the Chu Heavenly Questions": "What is the virtue of the night light, and it will give birth again after death? Jue Liwei, and Gu Tu is in the belly?" At this time, the rabbit has already been connected with the moon.

In the Western Han Dynasty, there were already legends about the combination of the moon, rabbits and toads.

The Mawangdui Han Tomb in Changsha, Hunan Province is the family cemetery of Li Cang, the Prime Minister of Changsha and Marquis of Changsha during the Western Han Dynasty.

The owner of Tomb No. 1 is Li Cang's wife. The lid of the coffin is covered with a "T"-shaped silk painting. On the upper left of the painting, there is an image of toads and rabbits surrounded by a crescent moon.

In addition, images of the moon, rabbits, and toads often appear in the stone reliefs of Han tombs.

In the stone relief of the Eastern Han Dynasty on the east wall of the No. 4 ancestral hall in Songshan, Jiaxiang, Shandong, there is a scene of two rabbits pounding medicine.

After the Sui and Tang Dynasties, the jade rabbit was able to enjoy the moon palace exclusively and became the representative of the moon.

Yu Xin, a litterateur in the Southern and Northern Dynasties, has a sentence in "The King of Qi Enters the Jade Rabbit Table" that "there is a rabbit in the moon, so the moon is virtuous".

Since then, the moon and the rabbit have been connected in poems and articles. The most famous one is Tang Li Bai's "Gu Lang Yue Xing": "The white rabbit made medicine, and asked who to eat with."

When it comes to rabbits in folklore, one has to mention Master Rabbit.

Rabbit Lord is a popular folk custom in northern China, especially during the Mid-Autumn Festival in Beijing. It is a mythical image of rabbits.

In the past, every Mid-Autumn Festival, the people in Beijing would worship the Rabbit Lord, and later the Rabbit Lord evolved into a toy for children.

In 2014, the clay sculpture (Beijing Rabbit Master) was included in the national intangible cultural heritage list.

Lu Peng told reporters that the white rabbits that are common today were regarded as auspicious omens in ancient times, and they were used to praise the monarch for his diligence and love for the people.

There are countless records in the historical books about offering white rabbits. For example, "Song Shu Fu Ruizhi" records: "In September of the thirteenth year of Jianwu Emperor Guangwu of the Han Dynasty, South Vietnam offered white rabbits." country" etc.

At the same time, the white rabbit is also a symbol of longevity and respect for the elderly.

It is recorded in "Baopuzi Neipian": "A rabbit lives for a thousand years, and when it reaches five hundred years old, it will turn white."

"Song Shu Fu Ruizhi" also has a description in this regard: "White rabbit, the king respects the elders and sees."

  West China Metropolis Daily - Cover News Reporter Liu Kexin