The symbol of the Three Hares was intriguing in its symmetrical simplicity running round and round forever in a sacred, endless circle. Was this just coincidence or was it something much more universal?Where did the trail start and where did it go? Did it have a beginning and an end? There were many locations to visit. Suffice it to say the journey took the three others to Dunhuang and myself to Ladakh as well as a Maharajah’s pleasure palace in Rajasthan which boasted two sets of four hares.
Chasing Hares was a great success and was repeated several times and heard by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, all over the world. But where does it all lead? For me at least there was a distinctly Buddhist answer to the meaning which emerged, and this can be found in the essay 10 on Ladakh. But often each culture has its own explanations and in some cases, none at all.
Coming back closer to home there is perhaps a Devon answer to part of the mystery. Dartmouth, where I had first gone to school, was the point of departure for the Crusades of 1147 and 1190, which brought knights of Devon into contact with the Middle East, Saladin and the textiles from the Central Asia. The Greek and Byzantine world rubbed shoulders with the Islamic world which included Persia and Afghanistan. Returning crusaders may well have brought silken textiles and stories back with them and incorporated the Three Hares symbol into churches in a Christian context. If they could come back with St George, who had nothing to do with England, then anything was possible, so long as it gave you confidence and belief in an innate wisdom.
Wisdom comes in many shapes and forms and in the very centre between the conjoined ears of the three hares lies a space akin to emptiness or should it be a question mark? The story of the Three Hares has many twists and turns and as it unfolds the hares continue to gyrate in the heavens. The quest is of course by its very nature never ending.
One fascinating item that links the Three Hares firmly back in the Middle East/Persia/modern day Iran is this silver bowl which came up for auction at Christies in 1998 and is now in the Al Sabah collection in Kuwait.8