There is such a story in "Journey to the West": the jade rabbit who was pounding medicine in the moon palace slipped out of the palace gate and came to the lower realm, charmed Tang Seng, and even waved a pounding stick to fight with Monkey King.
The jade rabbit spirit has also become a classic image in "Journey to the West".
The myth of "the Jade Rabbit smashing medicine", together with myths and legends such as Chang'e flying to the moon and Wu Gang cutting laurel, constitutes the main plot of Chinese moon myths.
In our oral legends, Chang'e in the Moon Palace is always accompanied by a jade rabbit, so that in many ancient poems, "jade rabbit" and "rabbit" have also become references to the moon.
For example, the first part of Du Fu's "Two Poems on August 15th Night Moon": "At this time, looking at the white rabbit, I want to count the autumn hairs." "White Rabbit" directly refers to the moon.
many countries in the world
There is a legend of the moon rabbit
In fact, we're not the only country that "puts" rabbits in the moon.
"Da Tang Western Regions" once recorded an Indian myth about a rabbit in the middle of the month: the rabbit looked for food for Emperor Shakra, but if he didn't get anything, he threw himself into the fire and offered his flesh.
Ti Shi was grateful for the rabbit and placed it in the middle of the moon so that future generations could see it.
This is the famous legend of "sacrificing one's life to the moon".
In addition, in ancient Mexican mythology, there is also a legend that the god wiped the face of the moon with a rabbit.
It can be seen that there are rabbits in the moon, which is a relatively common collective consciousness of ancient people.
It is precisely because there are too many sayings that "there is a rabbit in the moon" in world myths, and some people think that the myth of the moon and rabbit in our country was introduced from abroad.
In fact, although the myth of "the jade rabbit smashing medicine" was formed relatively late, the legend of "there is a rabbit in the moon" was formed very early in our country's folk.
For example, in the Mawangdui silk paintings in the early Western Han Dynasty, the image of the moon rabbit has already appeared completely and vividly.
The image of a rabbit in the middle of the moon can also be seen on many portrait bricks from the early Western Han Dynasty.
This also shows that at least in the early Western Han Dynasty, and even in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods, the legend of a rabbit in the moon had been spread in our country.
But it is undeniable that the myths and legends of "Jade Rabbit Pounding Medicine" and Chang'e are unique human fantasies in our country. For thousands of years, they have become a good story on a full moon night with romance.
reproductive characteristics of rabbits
perfectly coincides with the phases of the moon
There are all kinds of animals in the world. Cattle, sheep, horses and pigs, which are closely related to human life, do not appear in the moon. Why did the rabbit enter the moon palace to accompany Chang'e?
According to literature review, the Moon Rabbit myth, as a motif, has always been closely related to women, fertility and other factors.
The myths and legends of the sun and the moon, from China to all over the world, although not all the same, are more or less closely related to male and female gender.
The sun represents yang and refers to men, and the moon represents yin and refers to women.
Rabbits are especially closely related to women.
In ancient times, rabbits were one of the animals that were easier for humans to capture and observe.
The whole cycle of a little white rabbit from conception to childbirth is exactly 29 days, which is almost exactly the same as the cycle of the moon phase change and the cycle of the full moon and the lack of a cycle.
At the same time, rabbits are extremely fertile.
According to the investigation of zoologists, a healthy female rabbit can give birth to 4 litters a year, and one litter can give birth to about 10 little rabbits.
In ancient societies with low productivity, reproductive worship can be said to be one of the most rooted kinetic energy.
The association between the rabbit and the moon is thus established.
"Erya·Shishou" records, "rabbits say childbirth", originally used the word childbirth to describe the birth of rabbits, and later derived it to describe human birth.
It can be seen that the images of the moon, women, rabbits, and fertility are interconnected and corroborated, expressing ancient ideas of reproductive worship.
"Jade Rabbit Pounding Medicine" and Humans
The quest for immortality
In the chanting of our people for thousands of years, the rabbit has always been associated with the moon, and many folk interpretations and romantic legends have been formed. The reason is related to the mythical background of Chang'e flying to the moon and the jade rabbit smashing medicine. All of them more or less point to the human desire for immortality and longevity.
The myth of Chang'e flying to the moon was first seen in the ancient book "Huainanzi" of the Han Dynasty, in which it is said that Hou Yi asked the Queen Mother of the West for the medicine of immortality, and his wife Chang'e stole the medicine and flew to the moon.
Taking the medicine of immortality can lead to longevity. In the social environment of seeking immortality since the Han and Wei dynasties, it expresses people's fantasy about life.
The image of the Queen Mother of the West is often seen on the brick portraits of the Han Dynasty. There is also a rabbit pounding medicine in conjunction with her. The medicine pestle is naturally the elixir of death.
The Queen Mother of the West is one of the most mysterious gods in ancient mythology. There have been different opinions about her appearance and evolution.
As a god who gives both kindness and power and is in charge of punishment in the world, the Queen Mother of the West has always had the supreme status among the people.
Some scholars have analyzed that the Queen Mother of the West is originally the "moon god", and she is the same person as Chang'e. Therefore, when Chang'e flew to the moon, the rabbit pounding medicine naturally entered the moon palace. The jade rabbit, fairy medicine, and the moon became the unity of life and death. body.
Qu Yuan wrote in "Heavenly Questions": "What is the virtue of the night light, and when you die, you will grow again? Jue Liwei, and Gu Tu is in the belly?" It means that the moon is full when it is missing, and it is bright when it is dark.
"Gu Tu" has been interpreted by many scholars to refer to rabbits.
In this way, the extremely fertile rabbit has also become a symbol of endless vitality, and has become the designated "spokesperson" for smashing the elixir of immortality.
West China Metropolis Daily - Cover News Reporter Xu Yuyang