Rabbit God: A cultural symbol and renewal of old Beijing


The Rabbit God, or Tu'er Ye, has been a part of Beijing's Mid-Autumn Festival for over 400 years. Tu'er Ye wears golden armor, holds a pestle, with a bright flag behind him. His face is fair with mountain-shaped eyebrows and a three-part mouth. He also has long and sharp ears.


The Rabbit God comes from the story of the rabbit in the Moon Palace. Long ago, during a plague in Beijing, the Moon Goddess Chang'e sent the rabbit to to heal the sick. The rabbit, disguised as a human, went from house to house, curing people and ending the plague. To remember this, people created the Rabbit God and prayed to him every Mid-Autumn Festival for health and safety.

Sizes and designs

Rabbit God figures come in various sizes. Some are as tall as one meter, while others are only ten centimeters. The Forbidden City has a late Qing Dynasty clay Rabbit God, 31 centimeters high, 25 centimeters long, and 8 centimeters wide. This figure, dressed as an official and riding a deer, shows people's hopes for success, as "deer" sounds like "salary" in Chinese.

A cultural symbol

Although the tradition of worshipping the Rabbit God has faded, he remains a symbol of good wishes. Today, Rabbit God figures are popular gifts at temple fairs and cultural shops, representing prayers for health and prosperity. The Rabbit God is now a cultural icon of Beijing.

In 2014, the art of making clay Rabbit Gods was recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage. More people are now interested in and appreciate the Rabbit God, preserving this unique cultural tradition.