Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Girabbit in collective artistic imagination

The Girabbit, due its rarity, has given rise to very strange and supersitious beliefs, especially in its area of settlement in France. The beliefs held by the populations in Africa are unknown to us, because of the absence of any historical accounts of this period.

This first representation, the "Blue Girabbit" is a telling example of mystical belief in the all-encompassing and all-knowing characteristic of the Girabbit. In fact, some believe that the Girabbit is one of the rare species that can truly "see" in the future. This is expressed here in the "yellow" left eye of the Girabbit. One should remember that most adult Girabbit are blind, giving support to the biological theory of a prophetic and supra-sensible vision. However, there is no "scientific" ground to defend this view. Of course it does not invalidate completely this position. Moreover, the already mentioned Professor Tolkien reports in his biography of "Mr. Bliss" that the Girabbit could predict the weather.

This second artistic expression is more common and is held to be a mere representation "picturale" of a Girabbit.
The extremely long neck is thought to be the symbol of the Girabbit 's long life expectancy. In fact, most Girabbit will live to see many generations of their offspring come to life.
In this painting you can also see something of the sadness of a Girabbit (in the form of his eye). Since the Girabbit has such a long life, he also lives to see and experience many dramatic changes in his life and environemnent.

In our next post ... the different sub-species of Girabbit.

The origin of the word 'Girabbit'

The origins of the term 'Girabbit' has been the object of the most superstitious and ridiculous speculations. However, a correct etymological perception of this word is crucial to our understanding of the nature and origin of the Girabbit.

For some, the term 'Girabbit' refers to the giraffe-like deity that came to reign over a very small area of eastern Africa. This view is based essentially on a comparative approach to the study of African religions and does not integrate the etymological approach to the question of the origin of the term. Moreover, one should not forget that it is Dr. S.K. Heptical who first argued for such a derivation of 'Girabbit.' In my view it is difficult to follow the theory of one who denies the mere possibility of the Girabbit's existence as a distinct and more ancient species (as distinct from the giraffe, that is).

For others, 'Girabbit' is merely a composite of two English words, [giraffe] + [rabbit]. Of course, such a simplistic explanation cannot be taken seriously. It was first promulgated by Dr. Don Notkare to support his theory of the nonexistence of the Girabbit. Apart from the lack of support in etymological roots, Notkare forgets that the name 'Girabbit' in its European setting must have been of French origin and only later been translated into the English language. Therefore, it is to the French language that we must first turn.

According to the "Blue Book," the term comes from the combination of two old French words [jirer] + [habith]. The first word [jirer] originally meant something like 'vision' or 'seer'. The second term [habith] is probably a genitive, derivative of [habeth] which meant 'respectful'. The literal meaning would thus be 'respectful vision,' probably referring to the supposed capacity of the Girabbit to see into the future. When the word 'Jirhabith' was adapted and translated into the English language it naturally became 'Girabbit' word that we still use today.

A ... Girabbit? (!)

The Girabbit is an excessively rare animal who lives in the southern part of France. This is quite unusual for it is thought to have originally come from eastern Africa. It is believed that a migratory journey was undertook when the population of competing species like the zebras and the more familiar giraffe came to supersede Girabbits in the savannah. How they came to complete their journey to their new land is a mystery to all girabbitologists. Even if their origins are lost, the discovery of the "Blue Book of Migration" led to a new interest into this fascinating animal. This volume retrace the "history" of the last known herd of Girabbit in southern France. This book has been lost in the late nineteenth century and only second-hand accounts are available to the zoologist. However those accounts are often accurate enough. what we learn from this book is that Girabbits arrived in southern France almost six hundred years ago. There, under a perfect climate, they prospered and became so widespread that they became part of everyday life.

Unfortunately, of this original population only few individuals are left; some say, only three. If the reasons for this dramatic decline are still unknown, it is believed by some that a new form of disease from another planet is at the origin of it. Other more serious biologists argue that the Girabbit demonstrated after few centuries a form of psychological disease coming from their detachment from their original motherland. Given the extreme sensitivity of Girabbits, this explanation is the most plausible.

Some zoologists have challenged the very existence of Girabbits. Dr. Don Notkare for example affirms that "to say that someone has 'seen' is Girabbit is pure moonshine. Such a species is unknown to us and we have no proof of its existence." In the same manner, Dr. S.K. Heptical argues that "the Girabbit is an invention of primitive savage men who saw in the common giraffes a form of mythological and deistic grandeur. The first giraffe were given the rank of deity known now as Girabbit. But as a natural species, the Girabbit does not exist."
However those statement don't stand historical scrutinity. In fact, English scholar J.R.R. Tolkien reported having a first-hand knowledge of one Girabbit. In his illustrated biography of "Mr. Bliss" Tolkien describes very briefly one of the last known Girabbit. Because of the absence of details regarding the identity of the said "Mr. Bliss" and since Tolkien had been raised first in what is now South Africa, it is quite possible to identify him with "Mr. Bliss." This would entail that Professor Tolkien was the one who illegally "imported" a Girabbit "out of Africa" into England. The relationship to the French Girabbit is still unknown ...
Here is a picture of one of the French Girabbit, named Oscar.

In our next post, the origin of the word "Girabbit" ...