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Tattoo designs - R >> Rabbits

Rabbit tattoo symbol ideasRabbit Tattoo Designs - From ancient times, the rabbit and the hare have symbolized abundance, sexuality, lust and fertility. To 'breed like a rabbit' suggests rampant and unrestrained growth. In African and American oral tradition, the rabbit is an archetypal trickster, sometimes hero, almost always lovable, but often amoral. Likewise in Japanese lore, the white rabbit proves too clever and arrogant for its own good, meeting disastrous ends. In the Chinese zodiac, the rabbit is the happiest of the twelve symbols, being kind, popular, affectionate and obliging. In China, the hare is also a symbol of long life. In parts of Asia and the Americas, the 'man in the moon' is perceived as 'the rabbit in the moon'.

Native American totem medicine heralds the rabbit as the symbol of fertility. As an animal spirit guide, the rabbit reminds those who are physically vulnerable to seek safety in numbers, and to 'leap over obstacles in your path.' It also counsels one to remain calm in times of danger, much as the rabbit or hare 'freezes' when a predator approaches, relying first on its camouflage to hide in plain sight before fleeing only when absolutely necessary.

Many myths -- Cherokee and Sioux in particular - involve the tricky rabbit who often falls prey to his own boastfulness. For some native peoples in Eastern Canada, the Great Hare attained supreme deity status, while the ancient Aztecs worshipped a group of deities known as 'the 400 rabbits'.

For Bodiccea, queen of the ancient Britons -- who fought against Roman colonization of England -- the rabbit was a magical creature representing intuition. Pagan Britain also revered the goddess of spring, who favoured the hare as a companion. The rabbit's association with springtime rituals made it a symbol of fertility and renewal, and with the advent of Christianity the rabbit remained a familiar figure during the Holy Season. Its natural timidity and alert nature, together with its speed, were viewed as symbols of humility, vigilance and the wherewithal to flee from sin and temptation.

In the Southern United States, the rabbit took on folk hero status as Brer Rabbit, the cheeky trickster who outwitted his enemies and challenged his masters. Said to be a blend of African folklore and American culture, Brer Rabbit (as told in the Uncle Remus stories), spoke for the slaves and their troubles after they arrived from Africa during the slave trade. Often the hero, Brer Rabbit could also play the villain who was heedless of excess and its consequences. Whatever it took to extract himself from a tight situation, the resourceful Brer didn't think twice -- and often found himself in even more dire straits as a consequence.

In European literature, we see a White Rabbit portrayed in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. This nervous rabbit starts the story off, sporting a waistcoat and holding a time piece and muttering the unforgettable words, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!"

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter published in 1902, became something of a literary phenomenon. Peter Rabbit even inspired an entire genre of literature written, marketed and aimed solely for children. It also launched an ancillary empire of Peter Rabbit products beyond books, but inspired by Peter Rabbit, of toys, clothing, wall paper, furniture, crockery, and of course in the modern era, all forms of media such as cartoons, videos, games and much, much more. Peter Rabbit even has his own web site!

Peter Cottontail is the rabbit who has come to symbolize Easter. But Peter Cottontail is a relatively recent invention and the Easter Bunny's origins are centuries old and not a little mysterious. A best guess puts the Easter Bunny's first appearance in northern Europe, most probably in Germany where the fanciful hare first appears in literature in the sixteenth century. The Easter Bunny being coupled with baskets of coloured eggs is probably an attempt to emphasize the fertility and new growth of spring, as both eggs and rabbits are fertility symbols. Eggs also represent re-birth and resurrection, which ties the Easter Bunny into the Christian religious holiday of Easter, which commemorates the Resurrection of Christ.

In modern times, the rabbit has inspired many cartoons, comics and movies. As much as Mickey Mouse symbolized Disney, Bugs Bunny represented Warner Bros. Studios and the entire cast of Looney Tunes. "What's up, Doc?" has even entered common usage in daily language as a colloquialism.

If Peter Rabbit was a favorite of small children, and as a character a constant reminder to play safe and mind your parents, Bugs Bunny was the irrepressible teenager, never too far from trouble and never without a quick quip and a comeback.

Never a walking, talking character, the adult version of the rabbit was conjured up as a logo in the fertile imagination of Hugh Hefner, publisher of Playboy magazine. The Playboy Bunny is Peter Rabbit and Bugs Bunny all grown up. The Playboy Bunny logo is recognized all over the world, and has come to represent sexual liberation and a lifestyle that borders on hedonism and the pursuit of all pleasures. Hugh Hefner didn't just sell pictures of the girl next door au natural. Playboy magazine told men what clothes to wear, what music to listen to, what to drink and where to drink it. The Playboy Bunny was the personification of the Playboy lifestyle. Hefner even opened Playboy Clubs all over the world and the Hostesses, beautiful women all, were dressed in "Bunny" outfits that became iconic during the sixties. As with Peter Rabbit and Bugs Bunny, the Playboy Bunny has been thoroughly merchandised and is available on hundreds of products.

Due in no small part to its representation of a "liberated" lifestyle, and symbolizing sexual freedom, the Playboy Bunny is a popular tattoo design with both men and women.

Building upon the rabbit's mythical history of lust, sex, and playing tricks, some of the most memorable cartoon characters have become stars of the Silver Screen. In "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" we have the super-seductive Jessica Rabbit (who saddly was not a rabbit!). If the all-time favourite cartoon rabbit is Bugs Bunny, turning the rabbit character on its head is the Wallace and Gromit franchise, which produced the Academy Award winning "Curse of the Were-Rabbit", an oxymoron if ever there was one.

Rabbit Inspiration Gallery - Click here to get inspired!The last word on rabbits goes to the rock band, The Jefferson Airplane - as in, White Rabbit: "And if you go chasing rabbits / And you know you're going to fall / Tell 'em a hookah smoking caterpillar / Has given you the call..."

Get inspired by some great images and photos in our Rabbit Inspiration Gallery

See also: Animal Tattoo Index, Lucky Tattoo Index

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Tattoo designs - R >> Rabbits

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