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UPDATED: 17:24, September 28, 2004
Clay rabbit figurine fails to fight with "Hooligan Rabbit" cartoon
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Another traditional Mid-Autumn Festival has arrived. The taste and packages for wrapping moon cakes have continued to be pushed to the best. New short messages have become fad carrier for sending greetings. People still have the feelings to enjoy the bright moon on the fifteenth day of the eighth moon annually. Nostalgia and lovesickness are waiting for an upsurge of emotion.

New fashion needs time to become a tradition. At the same time, some classical flavors are hard to avoid gradual weakening or elapsing.


Most Beijingers, who were born before 1990s, had similar childhood experiences. Under the moonlight of the Fifteenth of the Eighth Moon, they had tasteful moon cakes and sat by the side of their parents while listening to stories of Chang'er and Jade Rabbit told by their parents. Then their eyes were open wider to seeking after the moon palace.

The lines of poetry like "Let people live a long life with eternal love and happiness'' were read by some parents. For older children, they can read some lines of verse in their books praising the Chang'er, a beautiful fairy. In their eyes, the fairy is kindhearted.

However, today "beauty economy'' is becoming a trend. More emphasis is laid not on the goodness of Chang'er but on her appearance. The quickened city's life and all joys and worries appeared in the social transition consume the limited energy of people.

"I cannot recall when I told children the story about the legend.'' And "I cannot remember when I heard people talk about that''. Mother and son said this when I had an interview with them.


In the ancient times, people deemed that white rabbit was the earliest to go to the moon in addition to Chang'er and Wu Gang. Rabbit figurines were sold on the streets in Beijing when celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival in the old days. The rabbit clay figurines were originally used for worshiping moon in the late years of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The doll images were changed to toys in the Qing Dynaster (1644-1911).

According to Mr. Hu, a retailer on the street of Guozijian in Beijing, the clay figurines of rabbit were made of clay out of mould while some of the figurines were hand-made. The body, face and gesture of the figurine were like human beings with the exception of the long ears and the months like rabbits.

According to Hu, the ordinary rabbit figurines were mostly divided into two kinds of opera and life roles with the exception of the rabbit sitting on lotus made in Emperor Guangxu in Qing Dynasty. The former was pompous with painting masks while the later was more humanized with a more social trend. They include figurines such as barbers and shoe repairers and so on.

The figurines of rabbit were sold from high-grade shops in the then Dong'an Market to temple fairs and street peddlers in Beijing.

The figurines have become a rarity now. The figurines can be seen once in a while in shops along Changdian or Houhai streets or in the arts and craft shops of some department stores. Hu said there are more toys now than before. It is very natural that the rabbit figurines do not enjoy popularity. However some people are still interested in the figurines, which are popular among young people and foreign visitors. At present, in many toy counters and wholesale markets, the South Korean cartoon rabbits "mashimaro,'' which is nicknamed "Hooligan rabbit'' in China, are well-received among children. The lovely images have been best-selling toy images in recent years under the influence of network.

By People's Daily Online

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