Exploring Chinese History
- Chinese Lunar Calendar -

Zodiac Animals


Meanings of The Animals

The Restless Rat

Rat people are born under the sign of charm and aggressiveness. They are expressive and are talkative at times.
Ambitious, honest, sincere, generous, and able to maintain self-control, but often find it difficult to maintain lasting friendships. However, rat people may have a tendency to be quick tempered and overly critical. Inclined to be somewhat of an opportunist. Born under this sign, one should be happy in sales or as a writer, critic, or publicist. The best relationships will be with the dragon, monkey and buffalo, and worst with the horse.
Famous rats: Shakespeare, Mozart, Churchill, Washington, Truman Capote.
Hours ruled by the rat: 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Direction of its sign: Directly North
Season and principle month: Winter- December
Corresponding Western sign: Sagittarius
Fixed element: Water
Stem: Positive (yin)

The Diligent Ox

Hard-working and persistent, ox people believe in themselves. An ox has high moral standards and severely judges others against those ideals.
A born leader. The ox is bright and patient, a good listener but disdainful of failure. Inspires confidence, but conservative, methodical, and good with the hands. Guard against being chauvinistic and too demanding. The Ox would be successful as a skilled surgeon, general, or hairdresser. Attracted to the snake, rooster, and rat, but avoid the goat.
Famous oxen: Napoleon, Van Gogh, Walt Disney, Clark Gable, and Richard Nixon.
Hours ruled by the ox: 1 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Direction of its sign: North- Northeast
Season and principle month: Winter- January
Corresponding Western sign: Capricorn
Fixed element: Water
Stem: Negative (yang)

The Powerful Tiger

A born leader, they are always the ones most likely to cry out "Let's Go"! Noble and fearless, tigers are respected for their courage even by their opponents.
Aggressive, courageous, sensitive, emotional, considerate, and capable of great love. However, tigers have a tendency to get carried away and be stubborn and short-tempered about what they think is right: they are often viewed as a "hothead" or rebel. This sign shows an ability to be an excellent boss, explorer, race car driver, or matador. For happiness seek the horse, dragon, or dog, and leave the monkey and snake alone.
Famous tigers: Marco Polo, Mary Queen of Scots, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Marilyn Monroe.
Hours ruled by the tiger: 3 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Direction of its sign: East- Northeast
Season and principle month: Spring- February
Corresponding Western sign: Aquarius
Fixed element: Wood
Stem: Positive (yin)

The Delicate Rabbit

The rabbit is one of the most delicate animals among all 12 animals. Rabbits are usually kind and sweet.
Rabbits are the kind of people that people like to be around- talented, affectionate, obliging, always pleasant, somewhat shy. Rabbits work well with others and have a tendency to get too sentimental and to seem superficial. Being cautious and conservative, rabbits are successful in business but would also make a good lawyer, diplomat, or actor. Most compatible with the goat, pig and dog, and least compatible with the rat and the rooster.
Famous rabbits: Rudolph Nureyev, Confucius, Orson Wells, Einstein.
Hours ruled by the rabbit: 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.
Direction of its sign: Directly East
Season and principle month: Spring- March
Corresponding Western sign: Pisces
Fixed element: Wood
Stem: Negative (yang)

The Celestial Dragon

Dragons are feisty, lucky, and powerful people looked up to by others.
Passionate, soft-spoken, somewhat stubborn, full of vitality and enthusiasm, the Dragon is a popular individual even with the reputation of being foolhardy and a "big mouth" at times. Dragons are very healthy, energetic, intelligent, gifted, and a perfectionist but those qualities make them unduly demanding on others. Dragons are well-suited as an artist, priest, or politician. Best suited for the rat, snake and monkey, but ill-suited for the dog.
Famous dragons: Joan Of Arc, Pearl Buck, Freud.
Hours ruled by the dragon: 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Direction of its sign: East- Southeast
Season and principle month: Spring- April
Corresponding Western sign: Aries
Fixed element: Wood
Stem: Positive (yin)

The Diplomatic Snake

Snake people are born charming and popular. Snakes will not be ignored, yet are never noisy or deliberately outspoken, they never gossip, and they have excellent manners.
Rich in wisdom, strong-willed, physically beautiful, charming, yet vain and high tempered, snakes are romantic and deep thinking and their intuition guides them strongly. Avoid procrastination and stingy attitude towards money. Keep a sense of humor about life. The snake would be most content as a teacher, philosopher, writer, psychiatrist, and fortune teller. The buffalo, rooster, and dragon are fine with snakes, but the tiger and pig will bring trouble.
Famous snakes: Darwin, Edgar Allen Poe, Abraham Lincoln.
Hours ruled by the Snake: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Direction of its sign: South- Southeast
Season and principle month: Spring- May
Corresponding Western sign: Taurus
Fixed element: Fire
Stem: Negative (yang)

The Productive Horse

The horse is an individual who uses their wits and labor to fulfill their desires. Horses have boundless energy and ambition, are adept with money.
The Horse's capacity for hard work is amazing. They are their own person- very independent. While cheerful, popular, attractive, intelligent, friendly and flattering to others, they have a strong streak of selfishness and sharp cunning and should guard against being egotistical. The horse sign suggests success as an adventurer, scientist, poet, or politician. Seek the tiger, dog, and ram, but beware of the rat.
Famous horses: Rembrandt, Chopin, Davy Crockett, Teddy Roosevelt.
Hours ruled by the Horse: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Direction of its sign: Directly South
Season and principle month: Summer- June
Corresponding Western sign: Gemini
Fixed element: Fire
Stem: Positive (yin)

The Gentle Sheep

Sheep people are elegant, charming, artistic, gifted, and fond of nature. People born under this sign are also the most creative.
Except for the knack of always getting off on the wrong foot with people, the sheep can be charming, elegant and very creative company. They are graceful and artistic but the first to complain about things. Sometimes confused and puzzled about what to do, they must put aside their pessimism, timidness and worry and try to be less dependent on material comforts. The sheep would be best as an actor, gardener, or beachcomber. Seek the rabbit, pig, or horse, and avoid the ox and the dog.
Famous sheep: Michelangelo, Rudolph Valentino, Mark Twain, Orville Wright.
Hours ruled by the Sheep: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Direction of its sign: South- Southwest
Season and principle month: Summer- July
Corresponding Western sign: Cancer
Fixed element: Fire
Stem: Negative (yang)

The Merry Monkey

These are fun and loving people who are always cheerful and energetic. They are very clever.
Monkeys are also a very intelligent and very clever witted bunch, to the point of genius. They are practical and given to detail. Because of their extraordinary nature and magnetic personality, they are always well-liked, although they sometimes have a low opinion of others. The monkey, however, must guard against being an opportunist and distrustful. The monkey sign promises success in any field that is tried. Their best relationships are with the dragon, rat, and goat, and worst with the tiger.
Famous monkeys: Julius Caesar, Leonardo da Vinci, Harry S. Truman, Elizabeth Taylor.
Hours ruled by the Monkey: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Direction of its sign: West- Southwest
Season and principle month: Summer- August
Corresponding Western sign: Leo
Fixed element: Metal
Stem: Positive (yin)

The Enthusiastic Rooster

Roosters are conservatives at heart. With roosters, what you see is exactly what you get. There are no hidden depths to the rooster's character.
The Rooster is a hard worker, seeker of knowledge, a pioneer who tends to be selfish and lonely, shrewd and definite in decision making, often speaking their mind. Because of this, they tend to seem boastful to others. The rooster is a dreamer, a flashy dresser, and extravagant to an extreme. Born under the this sign one should be happy as a restaurant owner, publicist, soldier, or world traveler. Choose the buffalo, snake, or dragon, never the rabbit.
Famous roosters: Rudyard Kipling, Caruso, Groucho Marx, Peter Ustinov.
Hours ruled by the Rooster: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Direction of its sign: Directly West
Season and principle month: Fall- September
Corresponding Western sign: Virgo
Fixed element: Metal
Stem: Negative (yang)

The Dutiful Dog

The dog person is loyal, sincere, honest, and faithful. Dogs tend to be serious people who complain and worry, but they mellow with age.
The Dog will never let you down. Born under this sign dogs are loyal, honest, generous, they work well with others, and are very faithful to those they love. Dogs are plagued by constant worry, a sharp tongue, and a tendency to be a fault finder and critic, however. They would make an excellent businessman, activist, teacher, or secret agent. Dogs are well-suited to the horse, tiger, and rabbit, but ill-suited to the dragon and goat.
Famous dogs: Socrates, George Gershwin, Benjamin Franklin, Herbet Hoover, and David Niven.
Hours ruled by the Dog: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Direction of its sign: West- Northwest
Season and principle month: Fall- October
Corresponding Western sign: Libra
Fixed element: Metal
Stem: Positive (yin)

The Chivalrous Pig

Pigs are models of sincerity, purity, tolerance, and honor. Put your trust in them for they will never let you down and they will always try to do what's right.
Pigs make a splendid companion, an intellectual with a very strong need to set difficult goals and carry them out. They are gallant, chivalrous, possess great inner strength, sincere, tolerant, and honest but by expecting the same from others, they are incredibly naive. Pigs make few, but long-lasting friendships. Their quest for material goods could be their downfall. The Pig would be best in the arts as an entrepreneur, or possibly a lawyer. Choose the rabbit, goat, or horse, and avoid the snake.
Famous pigs: Albert Schweitzer, Ernest Hemingway.
Hours ruled by the Pig: 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Direction of its sign: North- Northwest
Season and principle month: Fall- November
Corresponding Western sign: Scorpio
Fixed element: Water
Stem: Negative (yang)

The Legend of the Animals

Many centuries ago, the Chinese had no means to measure time. The Yellow Jade Emperor, the Emperor of Heaven, decided to arrange a contest. He invited all animals to a race on his birthday. The first 12 animals who cross the swift current river and reach the designated shore would be assigned to the 12 Zodiac Years.
The cat and the rat, who were once good friends and poor swimmers, convinced the ox to carry them across the river. Being naive, gullible, good-natured, the powerful swimmer ox agreed. As they were crossing the river, the rat was worried that the cat might win the race; so the rat pushed the cat into the river. This explains why cats hate rats, because they never forgave the rat for the incident. Right before the ox and the rat reached the shore, the rat jumped off the ox's back and took first place in the race.
As the Jade Emperor named the ox as the 2nd zodiac animal, the tiger reached the finished line. Panting his way toward the Jade Emperor, the tiger explained that he had difficulty crossing the river because the current kept pushing him down stream. With his powerful strength, he was able to reach the shore safely. The Emperor recorded the tiger as the 3rd zodiac animal.
From a distance, the crowd heard a thumping noise. Twitching its pinkish nose, the rabbit told the crowd that he had to hop from one stone to another in order to cross the river. Luckily, he was able to get hold of a floating log which finally washed him to shore. The Emperor named the rabbit, the 4th zodiac animal.
In the 5th place came the dragon flying and belching fire in the air. Jade Emperor was very curious as to why the dragon came in late for he can fly and swim. Because the mighty dragon could not bare to see his people and all the creatures on earth suffer a drought, he had to stop to make rain. When he reached the river, he spotted a helpless little rabbit clutching tightly to a log, so he gave a little puff and blew the log with the rabbit on it to the shore.
Just as the Jade Emperor complimented the dragon for his consideration, he heard the horse whining and galloping. From out of the horse's hoof sneaked a shrewd slimy snake. The sudden appearance and the hissing of the snake startled the horse and made him jump backwards, thus forcing the horse to fall in 7th place and the snake to take the 6th place in the race.
From a distance, approached the sheep, the monkey, and the rooster. The rooster proudly described how he had spotted a raft from a high ground, picked up the sheep, and the monkey. Along the way, the monkey and the sheep helped clear the weeds, pulled and pushed the raft to the shore. The Emperor complimented the trios for their combined efforts and named the sheep the 8th of the zodiac animals, the monkey the 9th, and the rooster the 10th.
Just as the Emperor was making the record official, next came the dog . The dog was trying to justify to the Emperor why, being one of the best swimmers, he was late. It turned out that the dog hadn't had a bath for a long time. The river water was so clean and fresh that he had to stop. The dog was recorded as the 11th zodiac animal.
Jade Emperor was about to dismiss the crowd and retire from the long day when he heard an oink and a squeal from the little pig who was waddling down the path. Needless to explain, the pig was hungry during the race and he stopped for a feast. After the feast, he felt tired and took a little nap. The little pig made it as the last of the 12th zodiac animals.

Another Version of the legend

The origins of the 12 animals of Chinese astrology are unclear. One legend holds that Buddha invited all the earth's animals to a gathering before his final departure, and these 12 were the only animals that showed up.
As a token of his appreciation, Buddha named a year after each of them in the order in which they arrived.


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