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National Folk Museum holds exhibition 'Year of the Rabbit'

By Kim Hae-yeon

Published : Dec. 16, 2022 - 16:24

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Toy with rabbit ornament produced during the 1940s (NFMK) Toy with rabbit ornament produced during the 1940s (NFMK)

In celebration of the upcoming “Year of the Rabbit,” the National Folk Museum of Korea is hosting a special exhibition on rabbits.

"Here Comes a Rabbit" exhibition interprets the folkloric symbolism of rabbits through some 70 collections of rabbit-themed art pieces and books.

The exhibition explains how rabbits inspired old proverbs, traditional folktales and novels. The fourth of the 12 animals in the zodiac, the rabbit is often depicted in Korean folktales and proverbs as a clever and agile creature that is also symbolic of the moon.

An early 20th century painting of rabbits and peony (NFMK) An early 20th century painting of rabbits and peony (NFMK)

A rabbit’s twitching ears, which respond to the softest sound, may represent timidness, while its short forelegs and long hind legs enable it to hop quickly, representing agility.

And the belief that rabbits are closely associated with the moon dates back to the Goguryeo period.

The exhibit includes paintings, drawings and other works from the Joseon era to the modern day that feature rabbits.

A wooden carving of a rabbit standing on the back of a terrapin, made after 1945 (NFMK) A wooden carving of a rabbit standing on the back of a terrapin, made after 1945 (NFMK)

The exhibition will continue through March 6, 2023.

Meanwhile, the NFMK on Monday published a special volume on rabbits as part of its Encyclopedia of Korean Folk Culture. The encyclopedia consists of historical archives and academic research on rabbits. A volume on the tiger was published last year. The online version can be found at the museum website’s encyclopedia page, starting Jan. 30, 2023.