, Title, Period, Venue, Contents, Date, Attach 상세정보 입니다.
Title Here Comes a Rabbit
Period December 14 2022 - March 6 2023
Venue Special Exhibition Hall Ⅱ

  • Title: Special Exhibition to Mark 2023, the Year of the Rabbit: Here Comes a Rabbit
  • Period: December 14 (Wed.), 2022-March 6 (Mon.), 2023
  • Venue: Special Exhibition Hall Ⅱ at National Folk Museum of Korea
  • Content: Folktales related to rabbit's biology and ecology
  • Materials: Over 70 artifacts including ornament featuring 12 animal zodiac deities
  • Composition
    - Prologue: Year of the Rabbit
    - Part 1. "The Rabbit and Its Biology"
    - Part 2. "The Modern-day Rabbit"
    - Moon Rabbit
    - Epilogue: Happy New Year!
2023 is the Year of the Rabbit.
One of the 12 animal guardians, the rabbit represents many things in Korean folklore. Physical features and behavior are major factors in determining an animal's symbolism, and those of the rabbit have also sprung many different symbolisms.
The special exhibition Here Comes a Rabbit explores the rabbit as a folkloric symbol for wisdom, agility, the moon, and conjugal affection in light of its biology including anatomy and behavior.


Prologue - The Year of the Rabbit: As what is called the rabbit guards the East

1부 전시장 모습

The rabbit is the fourth of the 12 animals in the Korean Zodiac. In terms of direction, it represents the East where the sun rises. In terms of month and timeslot, it corresponds to the second month of the lunar calendar and the time window between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. 卯 (myo), the Chinese character for “rabbit”, is a hieroglyphic resembling an open door, hence, the month of myo symbolizes the energy of spring when life burgeons from the ground and is considered important in folklore as it is associated with the beginning of the farming year. The timeslot of myo corresponds to dawn-the beginning of the day-which is why breakfast, morning sleep, and alcohol before meals are respectively called myoban, myosu, myoeum. As such, the rabbit signifies the “beginning” and by extension the “growth”, “prosperity”, and “proliferation” of all living organisms.

1. The Rabbit’s Colorful Biology: When all kinds of painters gathered to portray the rabbit

2부 전시장 모습

The physical appearance and behavior of the rabbit birthed various meanings and symbolisms. Its big, long ears, round eyes, cleft mouth, short forelegs, long hind legs, and stubby tail begot both fables and taboos. Its sensitivity to small sounds, alertness to its surroundings, and agility in hopping through the woods have also inspired proverbs and idioms.


2. The Rabbit’s Colorful Transformation: From a Clever Trickster to Beloved Character Designs

3부 전시장 모습

So, what do modern-day people make of the rabbit's symbolism, which lies somewhere in between agility and frivolity, and wisdom and trickery? Its unique physical features, such as long, big ears and stubby tail, are used as motifs in children's stories and product design. Narratives featuring rabbits as the protagonist, such as “The Rabbit and the Tiger” and “The Hare and the Tortoise”, are still told today in the forms of traditional folktales and classical novels. Images associating the rabbit with the moon are also widely explored. Today, rabbits are considered one of the cutest and most adorable animals. A recent survey shows that both children and adults deem rabbits friendly and likeable, which might be why they are such a popular motif for various children's products and daily appliances. Products sporting rabbit characters are still popular, and the term “rabbit” is even used as a nicknames for some of Korea's favorite idols. As such, the rabbit has settled in the Korean hearts and culture as a meaningful animal.

The Moon Rabbit: Upon first light, the rabbit fed on yang energy, entered the Moon Palace, and milled the longevity medicine underneath the laurel tree

3부 전시장 모습

The rabbit is closely associated with the moon. Everything from Goguryeo-period tomb murals to Joseon-period poems, folk paintings, and oral literature suggest that Korean people of yore believed a rabbit to be living on the moon. Koreans of yore deemed rabbits as spirits of the moon or the moon itself. The story of the rabbit who ended up on the moon has its origins in the “Tale of Jeseokcheon(S'akrodevandra)” and the “Tale of Hanga (Chang'e)”. The fact that the Chinese character for rabbit, “兔” (to) is used in Korean words for “the moon” (towol, tobaek) and the “shadow of the moon” (toyeong) attests to this symbolism. Also found in the lyrics of the Korean children's song “Half Moon”, the story of the rabbit beneath the laurel tree on the moon is still widely explored in children's content.

Epilogue: Happy New Year!

3부 전시장 모습

Ssangtodo, depicting a pair of affectionate rabbits, symbolizes conjugal love and a harmonious family, and Chueungtobakdo, in which a hawk is gazing at a rabbit, is a representative image used to celebrate the new year. Ahead of every new year, we send our greetings to those around us, wishing them the best. This year, it would be nice to convey our new year's wishes through folk images of rabbits.


Materials

십이지 장식품 – 토끼 The Twelve Zodiac Animal Deities
Ornament-Rabbit
Post-liberation

This rabbit-shaped ornament depicts the fourth among the 12 animal zodiac deities, featuring the characteristics of a rabbit with ears relatively larger than its face and body.
화조영모도 – 토끼와 모란 Flowers, Birds, and Animals-Rabbits and Peony
Early 20th century

This panel is from the 10-panel folding screen of Flowers, Birds, and Animals, a work representing conjugal love and harmony by portraying rabbits alongside peony. The eyes of the rabbits are round and red, with red eyes caused by albinism as rabbit eyes are generally brown or black.
풍차 Women's Winter Cap
Post-liberation

This cap covers the back of the neck and can wrap around the cheeks to fend off the cold. Attached inside is bolkki, an accessory for covering the cheeks and chin as protection against cold with rabbit's hair attached.
토끼와 거북이 목각인형 Wooden Doll of a Rabbit and Turtle
Post-liberation

This wooden doll is shaped like a rabbit riding on the back of a turtle. It depicts the scene from the classic folk novel Byeoljubujeon in which the turtle tricks the rabbit into following him to the palace under the sea.
토끼 무늬 베갯모판 Pillow Embroidery Pad Plate with Rabbit Patterns
Post-liberation

This embroidery pad plate was used to decorate the two ends of a pillow. Carved on the circular plate are the reliefs of a rabbit making rice cake in a mortar, tree, herb of eternal youth, and strangely shaped rock.
문자도 – 치 Painting with Typography-恥 (Shame)
Joseon Dynasty

Painting with Typography shows a rabbit making tteok with a mortar inside the moon within the Hanja (Chinese character) for "shame." It embodied the ancient tale of the virtuous men Boyi and Shuqi in showing plum blossoms blooming every year and the moon shining brightly after they die.
토끼를 활용한 다양한 상품들 Rabbit-themed Goods
21st century
화조영모도 – 토끼와 단풍나무 Flowers, Birds, and Animals-Rabbits and Maple Tree
Post-liberation

This is a panel from the 10-panel folding screen of Flowers, Birds, and Animals, which represents conjugal love and harmony by portraying rabbits alongside a maple tree . Ssangtodo (Painting of a Pair of Rabbits) symbolizes familial harmony such as spousal love and fertility.
송응도 Painting of Pine Tree and Hawk
Jang Seung-eop (1843-1897)
19th century

This painting by Jang Seung-eop shows a pine tree, eagle, and rabbit. Chueungtobakdo, a painting in which a hawk gazes at a rabbit, is a leading image used to celebrate a new year.

Date 2022-12-19
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