A Ku Indeed!

Xiao in the Confucian Rabbit Community

Posted in China, Chinese Philosophy, Sunday Comics by Chris on November 12, 2008

I usually don’t put cartoons up unless it’s Sunday (my “Sunday Comics” category), but my wife passed this one along, and I just thought: Confucian Bunnies ODing on Filial Piety (xiao). Yeah, I know that cutting up the body is a no-no for the early Confucians, but it’s a funny cartoon.


Hint: The cartoon is funny on it’s own, but I was thinking of it this way — for parents to expect their child person to keep or hold their mother’s severed foot would be to presuppose or demand a bit too much filial piety.


10 Responses

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  1. Bill Haines said, on November 12, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    The diarist in Lu Xun’s “Diary of a Madman” writes, “I remember when I was four or five years old, sitting in the cool of the hall, my brother told me that if a man’s parents were ill, he should cut off a piece of his flesh and boil it for them if he wanted to be considered a good son; and mother did not contradict him.” That would be an excess of filial piety, I suppose. But our footloose bunny mama seems to be overdosing on what is sometimes considered the reciprocal virtue for parents: “kindness” (ci2 慈). Kindness in this form would be an unsustainable virtue for bunnies.

  2. Chris said, on November 13, 2008 at 12:12 am


    Seen from that angle, you’re right, of course, but I was actually thinking of the cartoon in a different way — I was thinking that it would be an overdose of filial piety to be willing to carry your mother’s foot around with you for the rest of your life! Yeesh!

  3. Bill Haines said, on November 22, 2008 at 7:25 am

    I looked this up in the extended collection of the master’s sayings. It turns out a properly xiao bunny would not carry around its mother’s foot. The exact text: “Filial rabbit! Kongfuzi forbids.”

  4. Chris said, on November 22, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Works have been recently unearthed, some of which were found lodged in the mouth of a bunny statue standing among the Terra Cotta warriors. One work is the “Xiao Leporidae”. Some fragments recently translated:

    5.14: A bunny cannot be considered filial who regularly nibbles beyond three bounces of his hole.

    7.2: Harezi would not eat, unless his carrot was without defect.

  5. Bill Haines said, on November 26, 2008 at 6:51 am

    50 tortoise shells and a foot?! Confucius’ opposition to sleeping in the daytime does suggest a preference for tortoises over hares.

  6. Luis Andrade said, on November 26, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Glad the connection with Confucius (and Zhou China, by extension) wasn’t lost among all the tortoises–and a foot–in a Galilee cave.

  7. Bill Haines said, on November 26, 2008 at 8:50 am

    Luis, how do we know it was a shaman? And I don’t suppose anything was written on the tortoise shells?

  8. Bill Haines said, on November 26, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Not written exactly, that long ago, but scribbled?

  9. Luis Andrade said, on November 26, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Hi Bill. Great question. I would say the articles found in the burial, plus the distorted skeleton of the subject, is a strong indication of both the social status of the subject and occupation. The connection isn’t mine, though, but of the archaeologists digging it out. In my mind, the finding reminds me of the diviner kings of the Shang and before. In neolithic times, and well into the bronze age, the one that was able to communicate with the spirit world was, more or less, the de facto tribal ruler or, at the very least, the one to go to in times of need and peril (compared with today’s practice where the lot of them are paying for the furtherance of anti-psychotic drug’s research. That’s some change in social status over the eons, IMO… LOL)

    As for any glyphs found in the tortoises I don’t know and they haven’t shared detailed photographs to look for cracks or incisions. Still, I find the actual number of shells, and the fact of them being tortoises, very suggesting and intriguing. The fascinating fact is that the find is in the Middle East.

    I’ll quote something interesting I received from Prof Scott Davis (Miyazaki Intl. College):

    Hi, Luis,
    That was an amazing report you linked us to from the Natufian shaman’s
    tomb. Thanks very much. The accompanying items are deeply resonant with
    symbols of shamanism. Fifty full turtle shell sets! A single human foot. A
    shaman who limped when she walked… Quite amazing.
    I’m reading a detailed treatise in Japanese about the sacrificial items in
    Neolithic Chinese tombs, very interesting although sometimes heavy going.
    One sees the dominance of pigs early on and then the rise of large cities
    with cattle sacrifices becoming dominant. I just got through the section
    on turtle shells. The shells have the earliest appearance of writing, say
    around 6000 B.C.E., with glyphs such as “eye” or “sun.”


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