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6:51 AM, Monday, 24 June 2024

The Siam Society Lecture: Symbolism of the rabbit


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Symbolism of the rabbit (2 March 2023)

A talk by Ms Patricia Bjaaland Welch

Many historians believe the original zodiac was Greco-Roman in origin, then introduced to Egypt, from which it travelled to China via Bactria. As a result, one of the Chinese zodiac animals’ more charming 4-footed members has a longer, richer and more global history of symbols and meanings than you might realize. Our speaker will trace their appearance from the Temple of Dendera in ancient Egypt to coconut scrapers in today’s Thailand, with stories from “The White Hare of Inaba” to the Throne of Maximianus and the “Madonna of the Rabbit” to China’s mixer of elixirs of immortality.

Ms Patricia Bjaaland Welch is a former Lecturer in Chinese history & art (at Boston University and the University of Oslo, Norway) and after a career in Asia in the private sector as regional head of marketing for American Express, the consultancy McKinsey, ABN AMRO Bank and others, returned to her academic love: Asian studies. Today she is an independent art historian and author of several books including Oxford University Press’ Chinese New Year and Tuttle’s Chinese Art: A Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery, and is a frequent contributor to Arts of Asia magazine, as well as a frequent speaker on cruise ships as well as here at the Siam Society. She and her husband resided in Bangkok in the late 1990s when Patricia was also an active member of the British Library and guided at the National Museum. Today, they live in Singapore, but still maintain a home here on Soi Thonglor, and return as often as work and other commitments allow.


The Siam Society is diffusing this lecture for academic, educational and scholarly research purposes only. At no times does The Siam Society take responsibility for any ideas and opinions presented by the lecturer or persons making comments or asking questions.

The Siam Society is deeply grateful to the James H.W. Thompson Foundation for its generous support of the Lecture Series.

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