The Chinese zodiac, or better known as Sheng Xiao or Shu Xiang within the Chinese community, has 12 animal signs, which are listed in the following order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
It has an important role in Chinese culture, having evolved from ancient zoolatry and having a history of approximately 2,000 years. In China, the 12 Chinese zodiac animals in a cycle are not only used to represent years but are also thought to impact people’s personalities, careers, compatibility, marriage, and prosperity.
History of the Chinese Zodiac
The Chinese zodiac existed prior to the Qin Dynasty (221–207 BC), and the entire cycle of 12 animals was established prior to or during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220 AD), as evidenced by records from ancient bamboo journals unearthed in China. What is the origin of this enigmatic theory with a history spanning over 2,000 years? Actually, there is no conclusion, but the numerous hypotheses and legends enhance the intrigue.
Some people believe that the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac are a simplification of the 28 animals that represent the 28 constellations in ancient Chinese astronomy, while others insist that the zodiac’s relationship with Jupiter’s revolution period is approximately 12 years. The most prevalent totem saying has its origins in animal veneration.
There is a fascinating legend regarding the origin of the Chinese zodiac. The Jade Emperor desired to appoint twelve animals as palace guardians. He preferred the Ox to be first due to its integrity and diligence, but to everyone’s surprise, the cunning Rat concealed itself on the Ox’s back and occupied first place at the crucial moment. The Tiger was proclaimed the King of the Forest, and the Dragon was crowned the Lord of the Sea, but they both ranked below the Ox. The Rabbit defeated the Dragon in a contest and earned position No. 4. Next came the Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, and Rooster. For biting the Rabbit as a companion, the Dog was made the final victim. Actually, the Dog was eleventh because one candidate was late for the interview; the Pig took the final spot.
The mechanics of the Chinese Zodiac
How do zodiac animals influence the personalities and lifestyles of humans?
The birth date and time are the determining factors. This is identical in western and Chinese horoscopes. The distinction resides in how the birth time is recorded. The Chinese lunar calendar is based on the combination of 10 Heavenly Stems (天 干 Tian Gan) and 12 Earthly Branches (地支 Di Zhi), two fundamental groups of ancient Chinese astronomy and astrology terms that operate in a fixed order to mark years, months, days, and hours. Below are some fascinating technical terms.
Zi (Rat), Chou (Ox), Yin (Tiger), Mao (Rabbit), Chen (Dragon), Si (Snake), Wu (Horse), Wei (Sheep), Shen (Monkey), You (Rooster), Xu (Dog), and Hai (Pig) correspond to the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.
10 Heavenly Stems: Jia, Yi, Bing, Ding, Wu, Ji, Geng, Xin, Ren, and Gui.
In a 60-pair cycle, the 10 Heavenly Stems correspond to the 12 Earthly Branches to denote years, months, and days. If you have studied Bazi (八字) in Chinese Metaphysics, you will know about this
Yang is masculine and positive, while Yin is feminine and negative. They are profound philosophical terms from ancient China. Yang is associated with the Rat, Tiger, Dragon, Horse, Monkey, and Dog, while Yin is associated with the Ox, Rabbit, Snake, Sheep, Rooster, and Pig.
Five Elements : According to ancient Chinese belief, everything in the universe, including the zodiac animals, belonged to one of five categories: Metal (Monkey, Rooster), Wood (Tiger, Rabbit), Water (Rat, Pig), Fire (Snake, Horse), and Earth (Ox, Dragon, Sheep, Dog).
12 (時辰 Shi Chen): Each of the day’s 12 two-hour periods is known as a Shi Chen and corresponds to one of the 12 Earthly Branches and its corresponding zodiac animal; for example, 23:00 to 00:59 is known as Zi Hour and is represented by the Rat.
The 12 Chinese Zodiac correspond to their unique interactions influence their personalities, compatibilities, and future fortune.