A Brief History of Traditional Chinese Zodiac – Sheng Xiao

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A Brief History of Traditional Chinese Zodiac Sheng Xiao

The Chinese Zodiac, or sheng xiao, has twelve symbols, and the order includes Rat, Buffalo, Tiger, Hare, Dragon (Loong), Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. Each sign is associated with certain animals, and it corresponds to a certain year in China. For example, A.D. 2020 is the year of the Rat!

A Brief History of Traditional Chinese Zodiac Sheng Xiao

Why these 12 animals became the Zodiac?

The origin of the Chinese Zodiac has many different versions, and the commonly accepted story is the ancient people’s worship of animals.

In the 12 Sheng Xiao, six of the symbols correspond to the most common domestic animals – Buffalo, Horse, Goat, Rooster, Pig, and Dog, while the others are worshipped by the ancient Chinese – Rat, TigerTiger, Hare, dragon, snake, and Monkey.

A Brief History of Traditional Chinese Zodiac Sheng Xiao

Feature of Chinese zodiacal signs

  • The Rat is wealth, wise, ambitious and persuasive.
  • The Buffalo is loyal, reliable and determined.
  • The Tiger is a leader, brave and charismatic.
  • The Hare is modest, sincere and social.
  • The Dragon is eccentric and spiritual. An artist.
  • The Serpent is intelligent, intuitive and elegant.
  • The Horse is loyal, ambitious and strong.
  • The Goat is sensitive, calm and has good taste.
  • The Monkey is lucky, versatile and intelligent.
  • The Rooster is energetic, honest and flexible.
  • The Dog is loyal, brave and adaptable.
  • The Pig is determined, optimistic and sincere.

For example, the Rat steals the grain, which proves that “the hamster has more than enough grain,” which means that the household is wealthy, and the number of rats in the house symbolizes wealth.

A Brief History of Traditional Chinese Zodiac Sheng Xiao

The folklore on the theme of animals in the Chinese Zodiac is rich and colorful, focusing on seasons, life etiquette, entertainment, costumes and food, which has a long history of evolution and development.

Yin & Yang of Sheng Xiao

It is the characteristics of your personality that tend to prevail: Yin is associated with femininity and submission, while Yang is associated with masculinity and aggressiveness. Each person has a part of Yin and a part of Yang.

A Brief History of Traditional Chinese Zodiac Sheng Xiao

How do you know if your sign is Yin or Yang? It’s easy to see from your Zodiac:

Yin Zodiac: Buffalo, Hare, Snake, Goat, Rooster, and Pig.

Yang Zodiac: Rat, Tiger, Dragon, Horse, Monkey, and Dog.

The Chinese Zodiac is an image representation of the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, which is deeply influenced by the traditional philosophy of Yin, Yang and Five Elements. It embodies the unity of Heaven and Man.

A Brief History of Traditional Chinese Zodiac Sheng Xiao

The Five Elements of Zodiac

To find out what your zodiacal element is you only need to know the last figure of your year of birth:

  • 0 or 1: Metal
  • 2 or 3: Water
  • 4 or 5: Wood
  • 6 or 7: Fire
  • 8 or 9: Earth

What does it mean?

Metal is stronger than wood, wood is stronger than earth, earth is stronger than water, water is stronger than fire, and fire is stronger than gold.

On the other hand, wood generates fire, fire generates earth, earth generates metal, metal generates water, and water generates wood.

A Brief History of Traditional Chinese Zodiac Sheng Xiao

It means that everything in the world is transformed into each other and that everything is mutually beneficial.

Each element dominates two consecutive years, so the cycle repeats itself every 10 years. And each year, the dominant element will interact with your element (determined precisely by the last figure in your year of birth) in a positive or negative way. For example, if we are in the year dominated by water and your element is fire, it’s so sorry, but you are in bad luck this year. If on the other side, your element is wood, it will be a lucky year for you.

The Calendar for the next few years

  • A.D. 2022: Year of the Buffalo
  • A.D. 2023: Year of the Tiger
  • A.D. 2024: Year of the Hare
  • A.D. 2025: Year of the Dragon
  • A.D. 2026: Year of the Snake
  • A.D. 2027: Year of the Horse
  • A.D. 2028: Year of the Goat
  • A.D. 2029: Year of the Monkey
  • A.D. 2030: Year of the Rooster
  • A.D. 2031: Year of the Dog
  • A.D. 2032: Year of the Pig
  • A.D. 2033: Year of the Rat

A Brief History of Traditional Chinese Zodiac Sheng Xiao

FAQs of the Chinese Zodiac

What is the difference between the Chinese Zodiac and the Western Zodiac?

A clear difference between the Chinese and Western zodiacs is that the Chinese Zodiac is determined by your year of birth. The Zodiac in the Weat, is based on the month in which you were born.

How long is the cycle of the Zodiac?

The period of animals in the Chinese Zodiac is derived from the lunar Calendar, which has a 12-year cycle. It’s an approximation of Jupiter’s 11.85-year orbital period. The zodiacal Calendar is said to have been created in the 14th century B.C.

Does the Chinese Zodiac unique to China?

No, there are zodiacs in several Asian countries, like Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Nepal.

There are minor differences in some areas. For example, in the Vietnamese Zodiac, they use the cat instead of the rabbit.

What are the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac in order?

The 12 Chinese zodiac signs in order are:
1. Rat
2. Buffalo
3. Tiger
4. Hare
5. Dragon
6. Snake
7. Horse
8. Goat
9. Monkey
10. Rooster
11. Dog
12. Pig

Why doesn’t the cat appear in the Chinese Zodiac?

In one contest, all the animals had to cross a river to get to the Jade Emperor. It is said that the cat and the Rat were sitting on the Buffalo to cross the fast-flowing river, but the Rat pushed the cat into the river and let it drown. This is also the reason why cats hunt rats and are seen as enemies today.

The changing times have not caused the culture of the Chinese Zodiac to decline. In addition to traditional calendars, Spring Festival couplets, New Year paintings, paper cuttings, “Rat, you are rich” and “Pig, all is well” have become popular Chinese New Year slogans, Chinese New Year gala parties at all levels are full of Chinese Zodiac themes, a wide variety of Chinese Zodiac cultural relics and artworks are exhibited, and the news media are eager to popularize the Chinese Zodiac knowledge.

Stamps, coins and precious metals of the Chinese Zodiac have become new collectors’ favorites, famous artists create new products of Chinese zodiac art, folk crafts of the Chinese Zodiac introduce new ideas, and the culture of the Chinese Zodiac continues to develop and innovate in the modern era, creating higher economic value and carrying on the tradition from generation to generation.

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