Title:Figure of a RabbitArtist:Artist UnknownDate:T'ang dynastyCreation Place:Asia, ChinaCredit Line:Gift of Ruth and Bruce DaytonAccession Number:2004.132.4
This exceptionally rare figure of a crouching rabbit shows the animal with head held low resting on its forepaws compactly modeled and smoothly contoured in a simplified naturalistic style. The work was created shortly after the invention of porcelain during the late eighth or early ninth century and the artist has exploited the natural color of the clay. A T'ang dynasty bronze mirror in the museum's collection shows a rabbit mixing the elixir of immortality, a motif associated with Taoism and the wish for longevity. How this ceramic rabbit would have functioned is unclear but its size and shape suggest that it could have been used as a paperweight and, as a Taoist emblem of immortality, it would have functioned well as a tomb object in an aristocratic T'ang burial.