Yin & Yang

The Chinese myth of moon & hare, also a wonderful blog by bookbindery mistress and artist Barbara Simler, is one of my favorite myths. Living here in the US we grow up knowing the face of the man in the moon. In Asia it is more common to find the hare in the moon, toiling away, churning the elixir of immortality for the moon goddess Chang'e. I love the idea of the moon having both these sides, one side of the man's face and also the moon rabbit, maybe they're friends and occasionally hang out.

While researching symbols and imagery I came across the counter part to the moon hare which I had never heard of; the three-legged red crow. Together they make the balance of yin yang, commonly represented by the Taijitu symbol which we call the 'yin yang' in the West. The moon hare represents yin or darkness while the three-legged red crow is yang, light. Western culture has assigned 'good' and 'evil' to the black and white of the yin yang but really it represents balance. We can't have light without dark, up without down, hot and cold, etc. opposites that ebb and flow and settle into balance.

The image that I created was a gift for someone dear to me, struggling through a challenging time in my life I was trying to express the idea that opposites attract and can live in harmony though there is a constant give and take.

The folklore isn't accurately represented visually because really the hare is darkness and crow should be red and representing light. For aesthetic purposes and clarity I went with the classic white rabbit in the light and a black crow. In future I think I might try and stay more true to the folklore because presenting an accurate depiction is very important to me.

Hare & Crow (detail)

Hare & Crow


ETCIllustration said...

I love this, Sam! And what a beautiful presentation!

Sam Hamilton said...

thanks Ellen! I loved making it.