The Moon Bear (and why is he called like that)

Moon Bear… What’s the story behind his name? I didn’t know it until, one night, I asked the Moon herself. And she had much more to say than Google.

A long long time ago, The Moon Bear was simply called “The Black Asian Bear”. He was entirely black, darker than ebony, darker than night. The white moon-shaped spot wasn’t on his chest at the time. But as dark as his fur was, as light and gentle was his spirit. But the spirit does not reveal itself to everyone. Only the exterior does. And this was the Black Asian Bear’s misfortune. His darker-than-night appearance frightened the China’s emperor of the time, who came to the belief that the bear was an evil spirit that came to their land to widespread doom and gloom. He got afraid for his kingdom and his people, for his crops, for himself and his family, for the Sun and the sky, for everything. And fear has the reputation to cloud one’s judgement. Which it did. The emperor decreed that any being that was entirely black was demon-sent and must be hunted down in order for their land to be saved from damnation. And so the hunting of the Asian Black Bears had started millenniums ago. Many were killed and some were imprisoned in cages to study them. One must know his enemy! The bears that had escaped had to live on the run. Not a good life, but the only one for them at that time. The Moon, who was very empathetic for as long as she knew herself, felt so sorry for the Black Bears that she took a vow to help them escape the dark fate that lay before them. She took them under her care and one night, while they were sleeping, she touched their chests with her magic beams. A white moon-shaped spot appeared on the bears’ chests, a symbol of light and wisdom and hope. The Moon thought that the hunting will stop now that the bears weren’t entirely black anymore. It didn’t. It actually made things worse as the emperor came to the belief that the Black Moon Bears, as he called them from that point on, were not only demon-sent but they also possessed magical powers. How else could those white moons appear on their chest over night? The Emperor summoned the alchemists of the time to find a way to extract that magic from the caged bears that would then be used by the doctors to heal the Chinese people. But the magic power was nowhere to be found. Instead, during their search, the alchemists had discovered the healing properties of the bears’ bile. And that was enough for the bears to be haunted and imprisoned from then on.

So, when the bears were black as night, they were hunted because they were considered evil spirits, after they were touched by the Moon and got their white spot on their chests, they were hunted and imprisoned for their “magic” and, after that, for their “magic” bile. They had no chance, no matter what. The Moon felt heartbroken and saw no light in the bears’ future. She didn’t know what else to do to save them, she felt stuck, she felt helpless. Then, one night, she had an epiphany: Not the bears had to be changed in order to turn their fate, but the men’s hearts and minds. Easier said than done. That wasn’t something that could be accomplished over night, nor over years, nor over centuries or millenniums. But she is an optimistic one and she has patience. Plenty. She had started her work thousands of full moons ago. Over time, she noticed some positive changes in people, not as many as one might wish, but the humans are on the right track, the Moon says. So … she keeps on working on her task. Until when? She can’t say. But she is a patient one. And she has time. The bears, unfortunately, don’t. But well… they always can choose to go to Ursidora, the invisible bear island and live happy and safe there until the Moon finishes her job.

From my talks with the Moon on the subject of bears, this painting was born. I’ve tried to capture the bear’s gentle, unbroken-by-his-fate spirit, the one that doesn’t reveal to everyone, the one that must be searched under his black as night appearance.

This piece is dedicated to all the Moon Bears and to all those who fight for them so they can have the beautiful, peaceful, happy life they deserve.

Thank you for stopping by!

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