This fantastic model was created during the first lock down of 2020 by an incredibly talented Coventry resident. I saw it at Coventry Central Library but it is now on display in the Frier Gate building.
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.
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.
There is no game like an old game. Fox and Geese is a Medieval game which fell out of favour in the Tudor period but still holds its own as a board game today. What is exciting about both these games is that they are asymmetric. One Fox against sixteen geese. The Geese want to trap the fox so that it can not move and the fox takes the geese by jumping over them like in Checkers. What it amount to is an exercise in concentration. The geese have to advance without allowing the individuals to become isolated where they are vulnerable to the fox. The fox in contrast must be mobile and look for those opportunities to spoil the geese players day.
My wife bought me a copy one Christmas having seen my copy of Kings Table which is another really good game. I mostly play against my Father with this lovely set. The board is printed cloth and the pieces are resin copies a real Viking chess set now in the British Museum. Again this is a asymmetric game of white against red. The white player wants the King piece to escape. It does so by getting to a corner . The red player is seeking to trap the King so he can not move. In the Viking period they played a variety of board which ranged from small representing a bar brawl, medium (this size) which represents a small engagement or ambush and incredibly large which could represent an entire campaign.
These games make excellent Christmas presents. They are delightfully made and deeply engaging. I have had both my sets for over ten years and am always up for a game.