Legend tells us that the humble bunny rabbit is also one of the immortal companions of the beautiful moon goddess Chang’e. You can see him there, in her moon palace, busy pounding herbs to make the elixer of life. We call him by the familiar names of ‘Moon Rabbit’ or ‘Jade Rabbit’. But how did he get there?
Well what happened was this. One day an old man came begging for food. Monkey offered him fruit from the trees and otter offered fish from the river. Jackal stole a lizard and a pot of curds to offer the starving beggar. But bunny rabbit could only gather grass. Knowing the man couldn’t live on grass, the bunny decided to offer his own body for the man to eat. So he hopped right into the fire the man had started.
Just then, the old beggar cast off his disguise and revealed himself to be the great Jade Emperor! He was so moved by bunny’s sacrifice that he pulled the tiny animal from the flames and lifted him up to the the heavens. And that is how the mythic Jade Emperor turned humble bunny into the legendary immortal Moon Rabbit that we know today.
There are many, many more tales of the legendary Moon Rabbit told all across China, Japan, Korea, and all of Asia. And everywhere around the world cultures have seen rabbits in the moon and told stories of moon gods and goddesses with bunnies as companions. But perhaps none so beloved as the legendary Jade Rabbit companion of Goddess Chang’e.