The Hare of the Tabor is one of the phantasmagorical characters that appear in Ben Jonson's play Bartholemew Fayre, from 1614, where he reports of "...the Bull with the five legs, and the dogs that dance the Morrice, and the Hare of the Tabor." The hare has a universal mythological significance with its' associations with fertility and rebirth. The tabor is a snare drum played with one hand and often used in processions.
St Batholemew's Fair was an annual event held around Smithfield Market, London, in late summer and became notorious for being populated with nefarious and drunken characters. The colourful cast list of the play gives a real sense of the carnival atmosphere and includes a Ginger-Bread Woman, a Hobby Horse seller, a Cutpurse, a Ballad Singer, a Pig Woman, a Horse Courser, a Roarer, a Bawd, and a Madman. The fair became such a cause for concern that it was finally suppressed in 1855.
The original image was copied from a drawing in the Harleain collection held at the British Library, and probably dates from the 17th century. It was reproduced in Joseph Strutts Sports and Pastimes of England in 1801. The image here is sourced from William Hone's Everyday Book, published in weekly instalments from January 1825, which was which was an almanac of "useful knowledge for daily use and diversion." The image caught my attention immediately upon seeing it, and manages to appear both playful and slightly sinister at the same time.