by Marwa Yahya
CAIRO, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Energy, hope, prosperity and luck ... Those are the cultural connotation of rabbits shared by both Chinese and Egyptians. As the Chinese Year of Rabbit is approaching, an Egyptologist shares his understanding of the similarities between the two ancient cultures.
The Chinese Lunar New Year, or Year of the Rabbit, in 2023 falls on Jan. 22. Rabbit, one of the 12 animals of the Zodiac in Chinese culture, is also an important and special sign of the hieroglyphic in the ancient Egyptian language, Tarek Tawfik, vice president of the International Association of Egyptologists, told Xinhua.
"Old civilizations, especially those founded on the banks of big rivers like the River Nile in Egypt and the Yangtze River in China, share many similarities," he said.
The Egyptologist explained that the rabbit sign in Egyptian hieroglyphics represents the verb Un or Wenin, which means to be, to happen, and to continue, noting that ancient Egyptians drew wild rabbits on their tombs because they admired the cleverness and speed of this animal with big eyes and long ears.
As the popularity of Chinese festivals grows, some schools in Egypt start to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year as part of their academic activities.
Adam Mohamed, an 11-year-old primary school student, said he started to research the traditional Chinese festival after seeing a big poster hanging at school reading "2023: Chinese Year of Rabbit."
"I have learned that rabbit is one of the 12 zodiac animals, and it represents hope, peace, and prosperity," Mohamed said, adding that he loves rabbits because they are harmless creatures.
Tawfik said that rabbits can be found in drawings of desert hunting trips or military battles inside ancient Egyptian tombs, and in paintings about guards of the afterlife gates, who have a body of a lion and ears of a rabbit with two knives in their hands.
The professor added that the sign of rabbit was also associated with Osiris, one of Egypt's most important deities, who was the god of the underworld and symbolized death, resurrection, and the cycle of Nile floods that Egypt relied on for agricultural production.
Meanwhile, it is a popular belief among the Egyptians that rabbits can bring luck and a good future and block envious people.
Mahmoud Samy, a 55-year-old Egyptian living in Cairo, hangs a necklace of plastic rabbit legs in his car, hoping it will bring luck and good income to him.
"Rabbits are famous for their fertility and reproduction, which signifies more money and prevent accidents," he said.