Hunting Noble Bunny Rabbit

Pontifical of Guillaume Durand, Avignon, before 1390 (Paris, Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, ms. 143, fol. 165r)This is a fascinating image.  It shows a rabbit in the role of a noble.  He is riding with his hawk as any noble would but this is absurd.

First of all the noble is replaced with a rabbit.  Rabbits are an easy subject for anthropomorphic fantasies.  In the modern day, we can think of Brer Rabbit, Peter Rabbit and Buggs Bunny so I suspect this character, long lost in the midst of time, is of the same ken.

Just like Buggs Bunny and Peter Rabbit he has turned the tables on his hunter.  He is riding a hunting dog like a pony.  In this next image, the rabbit is thuming his nose, the classic insult from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at a dog hanging from a tree.  Clearly, the Medievals enjoyed as much as we do the reversal of fortune between the hunter and hunted.  Remember the black humour of those poachers being eaten by lions.

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I suspect that the rabbit heroes were also representative of the class struggles of the Medieval town in the same way that Raynard the Fox represented the struggles of a good man living in an evil time.  The black pleasure of the evil henchman being tricked into a difficult situation by his greed.

The absurdity of the image is completed by the hawk.  Complete with glove the rabbit is going hawking with a snail.  The speed, grace, and beauty of the falcon replaced by the slimy, slow and clumsy earthbound snail.

 

 

 

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