The Rabbit Triad – a little known bunny’s tale

Medieval Roof Boss Wissembourg France, Three Hares Project

The secret is not great when one knows it.

But it is something to one who does it.

Turn and turn again and we will also turn,

So that we give pleasure to each of you.

And when we have turned, count our ears,

It is there, without any disguise, you will find a marvel

–   1576 Dutch engraving from a book by Jurgis Baltrušaitis

I unearthed another interesting rabbit fact while doing my research.

In 1991 archaeologist Tom Greeves wrote about the Three Hares symbol found in Dunhuang, China.  He noted a similar symbol was used in European churches.  Over the next decade, photographer Chris Chapman and art historian Sue Andrews joined Greeves on a worldwide rabbit hunt.

Map of locations where The Three Hares were found

The Three Hares were not as elusive as one might imagine.  The trio discovered a trail of the trinity rabbit along the Silk Trade Route.  The earliest Three Hare symbol found in China was encircled in a sacred lotus.

The Tao-Te Ching says

“The Tao produced one, one produced two and two produced three.”

Baseplate detail found in Trier, Germany. Three Hares Project

To the Chinese three was the perfect number representing wholeness and fulfillment.

Three, the triad, and the triangle are universally regarded as a fundamental number or even a perfect number expressing the divine order in the cosmos and mankind.

Buddhists find fulfillment in the Triple Jewel – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

Hindus view the threefold manifestation of the Godhead as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

In the Great Work, alchemist used the three elements sulfur, mercury and salt.

Ancient Persians had a threefold motto: “Good thoughts, Good words and Good deeds.”

And the Christian trinity – Father, Son and Holy Ghost – is an example of a sacred triad.

Emmanuel Swedenborg’s angels told him,

“For love, wisdom and usefulness are three things that cannot be separated…. Nothing is complete or perfect unless it has this trinity…You can see why the number ‘three’ in the Word can be understood spiritually to mean ‘complete and total’.”

Conversations with Angels, pg. 144 and 145

A child reveals the presence of a mother and a father.  A tree trunk reveals the presence of leaves above and roots below.

The Three Hares are both a puzzle and a perfect symbol.

Iranian Tray, Three Hares Project

Each TWO-eared hare gets its second ear from another hare.  It is only when the THREE are gathered together as ONE that they are whole and complete.

You can join in the rabbit hunt.

When traveling the world if you find a Three Hare symbol, you can forward your photo with the details to Sue Andrews, Chris Chapman or Tom Greeves at The Three Hare Project.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ssforth
    Apr 21, 2012 @ 05:33:57

    You’re right about the rabbit ears. I hadn’t noticed that before. This becomes curiouser and curiouser.


  2. Eva the Dragon
    Apr 21, 2012 @ 07:47:54

    Were you aware of the Three Hare symbol?

    Apparently in Europe it is found in the oldest churches like the one in Tier Germany, the oldest church in the country. Makes me think it was incorporated into the design because it was so prevalent.

    I read one comment that a Chinese researcher felt it may have originated in Persian and moved to China via the Silk Road.

    Goes to show you there are more mysteries to be solved.


  3. Debbie Al Asfoor
    Apr 21, 2012 @ 20:52:04

    That was so interesting Eva. x


    • Eva the Dragon
      Apr 22, 2012 @ 08:16:04

      Thanks for writing that. I too thought it was so interesting. I cannot take credit for the idea. I am just the reporter. So many mysteries in the world.


  4. LmbK
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 07:45:39

    “A child reveals the presence of a mother and a father” – people seem to forget this.
    “When they come together as one, they are whole and complete” – I think we would fight less if we were aware of this.

    And I wonder: how can people live like THIS?
    WARNING: the following link is very graphic, disturbing and thought provoking and quite the anti-thesis of the Three Rabbits.


    • Eva the Dragon
      Apr 22, 2012 @ 08:24:17

      Poor Soul, the Center of my sinful earth,
      (Thrall to) these rebel pow’rs that thee array,
      Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth,
      Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?

      William Shakespeare, Poet


  5. LmbK
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 10:00:08

    My apologies if the above comment was a little too far from the blog post. The photo of that poor girl has been haunting me all week and the thought about the mother and father reminded me of her. (Still, I think if more people thought about the fact that everyone has mothers/family, there would be less violence in the world.)
    On a lighter note, I wonder if the presence of soooo many three-hare symbols in England is due to the presence of so many hares in the English countryside (think: Teletubbies, Peter Rabbit and “Watership Down”). Odd though that the symbol came from such a far-east influence. Although the Celts also loved a good knot.


    • Eva the Dragon
      Apr 22, 2012 @ 14:33:37

      No apologies necessary. If it brings up issues then we start to dialogue and when we share our feelings, we all begin to heal.


  6. morgaineswann
    Mar 28, 2016 @ 14:34:27

    Hi – I realize this is an old post and I looked around your blog and didn’t see any sign of Goddess talk. Did you know that the Rabbit was originally the symbol of the zodiac sign Virgo? The three rabbits appear on the oldest churches because they are built on former Pagan temples. The 3 rabbits represent the tripartite Goddess who is at once Maiden, Mother and Crone. All of the areas you are finding them are places where Goddess worship was violently suppressed and over run by the patriarchal Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam – all worship Yahweh. the god of Abraham.) If you already knew this, sorry for being repetitive.


    • Eva the Dragon
      Mar 29, 2016 @ 07:35:41

      Thank you for taking the time to write. I love how the Goddess clues weave their way through our stories, art and culture. I did not know about the rabbit being the original sign of Virgo. That adds another interesting dimension to the Virgo interpretation. Some posts about rabbits are on my other site Tales of Dragons, Rabbits and Roosters. It is nice to connect with others who love the Goddess. Thank you for writing.


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