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Chinese zodiac
Chinese Zodiac carvings on ceiling of Kushida Shrine, Fukuoka.jpg
Hanyu Pinyinshēngxiào
Alternative Chinese name
Simplified Chinese属相
Traditional Chinese屬相
Hanyu Pinyinshǔxiàng

The Chinese zodiac is a traditional classification scheme based on the lunar calendar that assigns an animal and its reputed attributes to each year in a repeating twelve-year cycle. Originating from China, the zodiac and its variations remain popular in many East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, such as Japan,[1] South Korea,[2] Vietnam,[2] Cambodia,[3] Singapore, Nepal, Bhutan and Thailand.[4]

Identifying this scheme using the generic term "zodiac" reflects several superficial similarities to the Western zodiac: both have time cycles divided into twelve parts, each labels at least the majority of those parts with names of animals, and each is widely associated with a culture of ascribing a person's personality or events in their life to the supposed influence of the person's particular relationship to the cycle.[citation needed]

Nevertheless, there are major differences between the two: the animals of the Chinese zodiac are not associated with constellations spanned by the ecliptic plane. The Chinese twelve-part cycle corresponds to years, rather than months. The Chinese zodiac is represented by twelve animals, whereas some of the signs in the Western zodiac are not animals, despite the implication of the etymology of the English word zodiac, which derives from zōdiacus, the Latinized form of the Ancient Greek zōdiakòs kýklos (ζῳδιακός κύκλος), meaning "cycle of animals".


A stone carving of the Chinese zodiac.
A stone carving of the Chinese zodiac.

The zodiac traditionally begins with the sign of the Rat. The following are the twelve zodiac signs in order, each with its associated characteristics (Earthly Branch, yin/yang force, Trine, and nature element).[5]

Number Animal Characters Yin/yang Trine Fixed element
1 Rat , shǔ () Yang 1st Water
2 Ox , niú () Yin 2nd Earth
3 Tiger , hǔ () Yang 3rd Wood
4 Rabbit , tù () Yin 4th Wood
5 Dragon /, lóng () Yang 1st Earth
6 Snake , shé () Yin 2nd Fire
7 Horse /, mǎ () Yang 3rd Fire
8 Goat , yáng () Yin 4th Earth
9 Monkey , hóu () Yang 1st Metal
10 Rooster /, jī () Yin 2nd Metal
11 Dog , gǒu () Yang 3rd Earth
12 Pig /, zhū () Yin 4th Water

In Chinese astrology the animal signs assigned by year represent how others perceive one or how one presents oneself. It is a common misconception that the animals assigned by year are the only signs, and many Western descriptions of Chinese astrology draw solely on this system. In fact, there are also animal signs assigned by month (called "inner animals"), by day (called "true animals") and hours (called "secret animals"). The Earth is all twelve signs, with five seasons.

Chinese calendar

Main article: Chinese calendar


Main article: Sexagenary cycle

Within the Four Pillars, the year is the pillar representing information about the person's family background and society or relationship with their grandparents. The person's age can also be easily deduced from the sign of the person, the current sign of the year and the person's perceived age (teens, mid-20s, 40s and so on). For example, a person who is a Tiger is either 12, 24, 36 or 48 years old in 2010, the year of the Tiger. In 2011, the year of the Rabbit, that person is one year older.

The following table shows the 60-year cycle matched up to the Gregorian calendar for the years 1924–2043 (see sexagenary cycle article for years 1804–2043). The sexagenary cycle begins at lichun about February 4 according to some astrological sources.[6][7]

  Year Associated
1924–1983 1984–2043
1 Feb 05 1924–Jan 23 1925 Yang Wood Rat Feb 02 1984–Feb 19 1985
2 Jan 24 1925–Feb 12 1926 Yin Wood Ox Feb 20 1985–Feb 08 1986
3 Feb 13 1926–Feb 01 1927 Yang Fire Tiger Feb 09 1986–Jan 28 1987
4 Feb 02 1927–Jan 22 1928 Yin Fire Rabbit Jan 29 1987–Feb 16 1988
5 Jan 23 1928–Feb 09 1929 Yang Earth Dragon Feb 17 1988–Feb 05 1989
6 Feb 10 1929–Jan 29 1930 Yin Earth Snake Feb 06 1989–Jan 26 1990
7 Jan 30 1930–Feb 16 1931 Yang Metal Horse Jan 27 1990–Feb 14 1991
8 Feb 17 1931–Feb 05 1932 Yin Metal Goat Feb 15 1991–Feb 03 1992
9 Feb 06 1932–Jan 25 1933 Yang Water Monkey Feb 04 1992–Jan 22 1993
10 Jan 26 1933–Feb 13 1934 Yin Water Rooster Jan 23 1993–Feb 09 1994
11 Feb 14 1934–Feb 03 1935 Yang Wood Dog Feb 10 1994–Jan 30 1995
12 Feb 04 1935–Jan 23 1936 Yin Wood Pig Jan 31 1995–Feb 18 1996
13 Jan 24 1936–Feb 10 1937 Yang Fire Rat Feb 19 1996–Feb 06 1997
14 Feb 11 1937–Jan 30 1938 Yin Fire Ox Feb 07 1997–Jan 27 1998
15 Jan 31 1938–Feb 18 1939 Yang Earth Tiger Jan 28 1998–Feb 15 1999
16 Feb 19 1939–Feb 07 1940 Yin Earth Rabbit Feb 16 1999–Feb 04 2000
17 Feb 08 1940–Jan 26 1941 Yang Metal Dragon Feb 05 2000–Jan 23 2001
18 Jan 27 1941–Feb 14 1942 Yin Metal Snake Jan 24 2001–Feb 11 2002
19 Feb 15 1942–Feb 04 1943 Yang Water Horse Feb 12 2002–Jan 31 2003
20 Feb 05 1943–Jan 24 1944 Yin Water Goat Feb 01 2003–Jan 21 2004
21 Jan 25 1944–Feb 12 1945 Yang Wood Monkey Jan 22 2004–Feb 08 2005
22 Feb 13 1945–Feb 01 1946 Yin Wood Rooster Feb 09 2005–Jan 28 2006
23 Feb 02 1946–Jan 21 1947 Yang Fire Dog Jan 29 2006–Feb 17 2007
24 Jan 22 1947–Feb 09 1948 Yin Fire Pig Feb 18 2007–Feb 06 2008
25 Feb 10 1948–Jan 28 1949 Yang Earth Rat Feb 07 2008–Jan 25 2009
26 Jan 29 1949–Feb 16 1950 Yin Earth Ox Jan 26 2009–Feb 13 2010
27 Feb 17 1950–Feb 05 1951 Yang Metal Tiger Feb 14 2010–Feb 02 2011
28 Feb 06 1951–Jan 26 1952 Yin Metal Rabbit Feb 03 2011–Jan 22 2012
29 Jan 27 1952–Feb 13 1953 Yang Water Dragon Jan 23 2012–Feb 09 2013
30 Feb 14 1953–Feb 02 1954 Yin Water Snake Feb 10 2013–Jan 30 2014
31 Feb 03 1954–Jan 23 1955 Yang Wood Horse Jan 31 2014–Feb 18 2015
32 Jan 24 1955–Feb 11 1956 Yin Wood Goat Feb 19 2015–Feb 07 2016
33 Feb 12 1956–Jan 30 1957 Yang Fire Monkey Feb 08 2016–Jan 27 2017
34 Jan 31 1957–Feb 17 1958 Yin Fire Rooster Jan 28 2017–Feb 15 2018
35 Feb 18 1958–Feb 07 1959 Yang Earth Dog Feb 16 2018–Feb 04 2019
36 Feb 08 1959–Jan 27 1960 Yin Earth Pig Feb 05 2019–Jan 24 2020
37 Jan 28 1960–Feb 14 1961 Yang Metal Rat Jan 25 2020–Feb 11 2021
38 Feb 15 1961–Feb 04 1962 Yin Metal Ox Feb 12 2021–Jan 31 2022
39 Feb 05 1962–Jan 24 1963 Yang Water Tiger Feb 01 2022–Jan 21 2023
40 Jan 25 1963–Feb 12 1964 Yin Water Rabbit Jan 22 2023–Feb 09 2024
41 Feb 13 1964–Feb 01 1965 Yang Wood Dragon Feb 10 2024–Jan 28 2025
42 Feb 02 1965–Jan 20 1966 Yin Wood Snake Jan 29 2025–Feb 16 2026
43 Jan 21 1966–Feb 08 1967 Yang Fire Horse Feb 17 2026–Feb 05 2027
44 Feb 09 1967–Jan 29 1968 Yin Fire Goat Feb 06 2027–Jan 25 2028
45 Jan 30 1968–Feb 16 1969 Yang Earth Monkey Jan 26 2028–Feb 12 2029
46 Feb 17 1969–Feb 05 1970 Yin Earth Rooster Feb 13 2029–Feb 02 2030
47 Feb 06 1970–Jan 26 1971 Yang Metal Dog Feb 03 2030–Jan 22 2031
48 Jan 27 1971–Feb 14 1972 Yin Metal Pig Jan 23 2031–Feb 10 2032
49 Feb 15 1972–Feb 02 1973 Yang Water Rat Feb 11 2032–Jan 30 2033
50 Feb 03 1973–Jan 22 1974 Yin Water Ox Jan 31 2033–Feb 18 2034
51 Jan 23 1974–Feb 10 1975 Yang Wood Tiger Feb 19 2034–Feb 07 2035
52 Feb 11 1975–Jan 30 1976 Yin Wood Rabbit Feb 08 2035–Jan 27 2036
53 Jan 31 1976–Feb 17 1977 Yang Fire Dragon Jan 28 2036–Feb 14 2037
54 Feb 18 1977–Feb 06 1978 Yin Fire Snake Feb 15 2037–Feb 03 2038
55 Feb 07 1978–Jan 27 1979 Yang Earth Horse Feb 04 2038–Jan 23 2039
56 Jan 28 1979–Feb 15 1980 Yin Earth Goat Jan 24 2039–Feb 11 2040
57 Feb 16 1980–Feb 04 1981 Yang Metal Monkey Feb 12 2040–Jan 31 2041
58 Feb 05 1981–Jan 24 1982 Yin Metal Rooster Feb 01 2041–Jan 21 2042
59 Jan 25 1982–Feb 12 1983 Yang Water Dog Jan 22 2042–Feb 09 2043
60 Feb 13 1983–Feb 01 1984 Yin Water Pig Feb 10 2043–Jan 29 2044

Months and solar terms

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Main article: Solar term

Within the Four Pillars, the month is the pillar representing information about the person's parents or childhood. Many Chinese astrologers consider the month pillar to be the most important one in determining the circumstances of one's adult life.

The twelve animals are also linked to the traditional Chinese agricultural calendar, which runs alongside the better known Lunar calendar. Instead of months, this calendar is divided into 24 two-week segments known as Solar Terms. Each animal is linked to two of these solar terms for a period similar to the Western month. Unlike the 60 year Lunar calendar, which can vary by as much as a month in relation to the Gregorian calendar, the agricultural calendar varies by only one day, beginning on the Gregorian calendar on 3 or 4 February every year. Again unlike the cycle of the lunar years, which begins with the Rat, the agricultural calendar begins with the Tiger as it is the first animal of spring.

As each sign is linked to a month of the solar year, it is thereby also linked to a season. Each of the elements are also linked to a season (see above), and the element that shares a season with a sign is known as the sign's fixed element. In other words, that element is believed to impart some of its characteristics to the sign concerned. The fixed element of each sign applies also to the year and hour signs, and not just the monthly sign. The fixed element is separate from the cycle of elements which interact with the signs in the 60-year cycle.

Season Lunar month Fixed
Solar term Approx. Gregorian date Approx.
Spring 1st – 寅 (yin) Tiger Wood 315° 立春 lìchūn Feb 4 Aquarius
330° 雨水 yǔshuǐ Mar 5 Pisces
2nd – 卯 (mao) Rabbit Wood 345° 啓蟄 qǐzhé (驚蟄 jīngzhé) Mar 6
春分 chūnfēn Apr 5 Aries
3rd – 辰 (chen) Dragon Earth 15° 清明 qīngmíng Apr 6
30° 穀雨 gǔyǔ May 6 Taurus
Summer 4th – 巳 (si) Snake Fire 45° 立夏 lìxià May 7
60° 小滿 xiǎomǎn Jun 5 Gemini
5th – 午 (wu) Horse Fire 75° 芒種 mángzhòng Jun 6
90° 夏至 xiàzhì Jul 6 Cancer
6th – 未 (wei) Goat Earth 105° 小暑 xiǎoshǔ Jul 7
120° 大暑 dàshǔ Aug 6 Leo
Autumn 7th – 申 (shen) Monkey Metal 135° 立秋 lìqiū Aug 7
150° 處暑 chùshǔ Sep 7 Virgo
8th – 酉 (you) Rooster Metal 165° 白露 báilù Sep 8
180° 秋分 qiūfēn Oct 7 Libra
9th – 戌 (xu) Dog Earth 195° 寒露 hánlù Oct 8
210° 霜降 shuāngjiàng Nov 6 Scorpio
Winter 10th – 亥 (hai) Pig Water 225° 立冬 lìdōng Nov 7
240° 小雪 xiǎoxuě Dec 6 Sagittarius
11th – 子 (zi) Rat Water 255° 大雪 dàxuě Dec 7
270° 冬至 dōngzhì Jan 5 Capricorn
12th – 丑 (chou) Ox Earth 285° 小寒 xiǎohán Jan 6
300° 大寒 dàhán Feb 3 Aquarius


Four pillars calculators can determine the zodiac animal of the day.[8] Chinese animal signs rule over days of the week, too. The term for them is "True Animals". If one's astrologer wishes to prepare an astrological chart (aka horoscope), it is essential they know the animal and element of one's day of birth. However, due to there being twelve animals and a ten-day week on the ancient Chinese calendar, it is not easy to find one's day element or animal. As the Day Master (element) affects the element of the Hour animal, among other things, caution is required when calculating this part of the chart. A professional will likely have tools for such a calculator on hand, but many online calculators that feature all four animals will also provide an accurate chart.


Chinese Zodiac Compatibility-Conflict-Harm Grid in accordance to one's nature, characteristics, and elements
Chinese Zodiac Compatibility-Conflict-Harm Grid in accordance to one's nature, characteristics, and elements

As the Chinese zodiac is derived according to the ancient Five Elements Theory, every Chinese sign is associated with five elements with relations, among those elements, of interpolation, interaction, over-action, and counter-action—believed to be the common law of motions and changes of creatures in the universe. Different people born under each animal sign supposedly have different personalities, and practitioners of Chinese astrology consult such traditional details and compatibilities to offer putative guidance in life or for love and marriage.[9]

Chinese zodiac compatibility grid[10]
Sign Best match


Average match


Super bad



(best avoid)

Rat Dragon, Monkey, Rat Pig, Tiger, Dog, Snake, Rabbit, Rooster, Ox Horse Goat
Ox Snake, Rooster, Ox Monkey, Dog, Rabbit, Tiger, Dragon, Pig, Rat Goat Horse
Tiger Horse, Dog, Tiger Rabbit, Dragon, Rooster, Rat, Goat, Ox, Pig Monkey Snake
Rabbit Pig, Goat, Rabbit Tiger, Monkey, Goat, Ox, Horse, Rat, Snake Rooster Dragon
Dragon Rat, Monkey, Dragon Tiger, Snake, Horse, Goat, Pig, Ox, Rooster Dog Rabbit
Snake Ox, Rooster, Snake Horse, Dragon, Goat, Dog, Rabbit, Rat, Monkey Pig Tiger
Horse Dog, Tiger, Horse Snake, Rabbit, Dragon, Rooster, Pig, Monkey, Goat Rat Ox
Goat Rabbit, Pig, Goat Snake, Rabbit, Dragon, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Tiger Ox Rat
Monkey Dragon, Rat, Monkey Dragon, Dog, Ox, Goat, Rabbit, Rooster, Horse Tiger Pig
Rooster Ox, Snake, Rooster Horse, Snake, Goat, Pig, Tiger, Monkey, Rat Rabbit Dog
Dog Tiger, Horse, Dog Monkey, Pig, Rat, Ox, Snake, Goat, Rabbit Dragon Rooster
Pig Rabbit, Goat, Pig Rat, Rooster, Dog, Dragon, Horse, Ox, Tiger Snake Monkey

Four Pillars of Destiny

Main article: Four Pillars of Destiny

The Four Pillars of Destiny method can be traced back to the Han dynasty (201 BCE – 220 CE), and is still much used in feng shui astrology and general analysis today. The Four Pillars or columns chart is called such as the Chinese writing causes it to fall into columns. Each pillar or column contains a stem and a branch—and each column relates to the year, month, day and hour of birth. The first column refers to the year animal and element, the second to the month animal and element, the third to the day animal and element, and the last to the hour animal and element.

Within the Four Pillars of Destiny, the year column purports to provide information about one's ancestor or early age, and the month column about one's parents or growing age. The day column purports to offer information about oneself (upper character) and one's spouse (lower character) or adult age, and the hour column about children or late age.[11]

Animal trines

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Further information: Astrological aspect § Trine


The first trine consists of the Rat, Dragon, and Monkey. These three signs are said to be intense and powerful individuals capable of great good, who make great leaders but are rather unpredictable. The three are said to be intelligent, magnanimous, charismatic, charming, authoritative, confident, eloquent, and artistic, but can be manipulative, jealous, selfish, aggressive, vindictive, and deceitful.


The second trine consists of the Ox, Snake, and Rooster. These three signs are said to possess endurance and application, with slow accumulation of energy, meticulous at planning but tending to hold fixed opinions. The three are said to be intelligent, hard-working, modest, industrious, loyal, philosophical, patient, goodhearted, and morally upright, but can also be self-righteous, egotistical, vain, judgmental, narrow-minded, and petty.


The third trine consists of the Tiger, Horse, and Dog. These three signs are said to seek true love, to pursue humanitarian causes, to be idealistic and independent but tending to be impulsive. The three are said to be productive, enthusiastic, independent, engaging, dynamic, honorable, loyal, and protective, but can also be rash, rebellious, quarrelsome, anxious, disagreeable, and stubborn.


The fourth trine consists of the Rabbit, Goat, and Pig. These three signs are said to have a calm nature and somewhat reasonable approach; they seek aesthetic beauty and are artistic, well-mannered and compassionate, yet detached and resigned to their condition. The three are said to be caring, self-sacrificing, obliging, sensible, creative, empathetic, tactful, and prudent, but can also be naïve, pedantic, insecure, selfish, indecisive, and pessimistic.

Origin stories

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There are many stories and fables to explain the beginning of the zodiac. Since the Han Dynasty, the twelve Earthly Branches have been used to record the time of day. However, for the sake of entertainment and convenience[citation needed], they have been replaced by the twelve animals, and a mnemonic refers to the behavior of the animals:

Earthly Branches may refer to a double-hour period. In the latter case it is the center of the period; for instance, 马 (Horse) means noon as well as a period from 11:00 to 13:00.

Animal Pronunciation Period This is the time when...
Rat Zishi 23:00 to 00:59 Rats are most active in seeking food. Rats also have a different number of digits on front and hind legs, thus earning Rat the symbol of "turn over" or "new start"
Ox Choushi 01:00 to 02:59 Oxen begin to chew the cud slowly and comfortably
Tiger Yinshi 03:00 to 04:59 Tigers hunt their prey more and show their ferocity
Rabbit Maoshi 05:00 to 06:59 The Jade Rabbit is busy pounding herbal medicine on the Moon according to the tale
Dragon Chenshi 07:00 to 08:59 Dragons are hovering in the sky to give rain
Snake Sishi 09:00 to 10:59 Snakes are leaving their caves
Horse Wushi 11:00 to 12:59 The sun is high overhead and while other animals are lying down for a rest, horses are still standing
Goat Weishi 13:00 to 14:59 Goats eat grass and urinate frequently
Monkey Shenshi 15:00 to 16:59 Monkeys are lively
Rooster Youshi 17:00 to 18:59 Roosters begin to get back to their coops
Dog Xushi 19:00 to 20:59 Dogs carry out their duty of guarding the houses
Pig Haishi 21:00 to 22:59 Pigs are sleeping sweetly

Great Race

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This image depicts a scene from the "Great Race" folk story, in which the Ox carries the Rat across the river.
This image depicts a scene from the "Great Race" folk story, in which the Ox carries the Rat across the river.

An ancient folk story[12] called the "Great Race" tells that the Jade Emperor decreed that the years on the calendar would be named for each animal in the order they reached him. To get there, the animals would have to cross a river .

The Cat and the Rat were not good at swimming, but they were both quite intelligent. They decided that the best and fastest way to cross the river was to hop on the back of the Ox. The Ox, being kindhearted and naïve, agreed to carry them both across. As the Ox was about to reach the other side of the river, the Rat pushed the Cat into the water, and then jumped off the Ox and rushed to the Jade Emperor. It was named as the first animal of the zodiac calendar. The Ox had to settle in second place.

The third one to come, was the Tiger. Even though it was strong and powerful, it explained to the Jade Emperor that the currents were pushing him downstream.

Suddenly, from a distance came a thumping sound, and the Rabbit arrived. It explained how it crossed the river: by jumping from one stone to another, in a nimble fashion. Halfway through, it almost lost the race, but it was lucky enough to grab hold of a floating log that later washed him to shore. For that, it became the fourth animal in the zodiac cycle.

In fifth place, was the flying Dragon. The Jade Emperor was wondering why such a swift airborne creature such as the Dragon did not come in first. The Dragon explained that it had to stop by a village and brought rain for all the people, and therefore it was held back. Then, on its way to the finish, it saw the helpless Rabbit clinging onto a log, so it did a good deed and gave a puff of breath to the poor creature so that it could land on the shore. The Jade Emperor was astonished by the Dragon's good nature, and it was named as the fifth animal.

As soon as it had done so, a galloping sound was heard, and the Horse appeared. Hidden on the Horse's hoof was the Snake, whose sudden appearance gave it a fright, thus making it fall back and giving the Snake the sixth spot while the Horse placed seventh.

After a while, the Goat, Monkey, and Rooster came to the heavenly gate. With combined efforts, they managed to arrive to the other side. The Rooster found a raft, and the Monkey and the Goat tugged and pulled, trying to get all the weeds out of the way. The Jade Emperor was pleased with their teamwork and decided to name the Goat as the eighth animal followed by the Monkey and then the Rooster.

The eleventh animal placed in the zodiac cycle was the Dog. Although it should have been the best swimmer and runner, it spent its time to play in the water. Though his explanation for being late was because it needed a good bath after a long spell. For that, it almost did not make it to the finish line.

Right when the Emperor was going to end the race, an "oink" sound was heard: it was the Pig. The Pig felt hungry in the middle of the race, so it stopped, ate something, and then fell asleep. After it awoke, it finished the race in twelfth place and became the last animal to arrive.

The cat eventually drowned and failed to be in the zodiac. It is said that this is the reason cats always hunt rats and also hate water as well.


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Another folk story tells that the Rat deceived the Ox into letting it jump on its back, in order for the Ox to hear the Rat sing,[13] before jumping off at the finish line and finishing first. Another variant says that the Rat had cheated the Cat out its place at the finishing line, having stowed-away on the dog's back, who was too focused to notice that he had a stow-away; this is said to account for the antagonistic dynamic between cats and rats, beyond normal predator-and-prey behaviour; and also why dogs and cats fight, the cat having tried to attack the rat in retaliation, only to get the dog by accident.

In Chinese mythology, a story tells that the cat was tricked by the Rat so it could not go to the banquet. This is why the cat is ultimately not part of the Chinese zodiac.[citation needed]

In Buddhism, legend has it that Gautama Buddha summoned all of the animals of the Earth to come before him before his departure from this Earth, but only twelve animals actually came to bid him farewell. To reward the animals who came to him, he named a year after each of them. The years were given to them in the order they had arrived.

The twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac were developed in the early stages of Chinese civilization, therefore it is difficult to investigate its real origins. Most historians agree that the cat is not included, as they had not yet been introduced to China from India with the arrival of Buddhism. However, the Vietnamese, unlike all other countries who follow the Sino lunar calendar, have the cat instead of the rabbit as a zodiac animal. The most common explanation is that the ancient word for Rabbit (Mao) sounds like cat (Meo).[14]

Problems with English translation

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Due to confusion with synonyms during translation, some of the animals depicted by the English words did not exist in ancient China.[citation needed] For example:


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The Chinese zodiac signs are also used by cultures other than Chinese. For one example, they usually appear on Korean New Year and Japanese New Year's cards and stamps. The United States Postal Service and several other countries' postal services issue a "Year of the ____" postage stamp each year to honor this Chinese heritage.

The Chinese lunar coins, depicting the zodiac animals, inspired the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf coins, as well as varieties from Australia, South Korea, and Mongolia.

The Chinese zodiac is also used in some other Asian countries that have been under the cultural influence of China. However, some of the animals in the zodiac may differ by country.


Further information: Bulgar calendar and Vietnamese zodiac

The Korean zodiac includes the Sheep (yang) instead of the Goat (which would be yeomso), although the Chinese source of the loanword yang may refer to any goat-antelope.[citation needed]

The Japanese zodiac includes the Sheep (hitsuji) instead of the Goat (which would be yagi), and the Wild boar (inoshishi, i) instead of the Pig (buta).[15] Since 1873, the Japanese have celebrated the beginning of the new year on 1 January as per the Gregorian calendar.[citation needed]

The Vietnamese zodiac varies from the Chinese zodiac with the second animal being the Water Buffalo instead of the Ox, and the fourth animal being the Cat instead of the Rabbit.[citation needed]

The Cambodian zodiac is exactly identical to that of the Chinese although the dragon is interchangeable with the Neak (nāga) Cambodian sea snake.[16] Sheep and Goat are interchangeable as well. The Cambodian New Year is celebrated in April, rather than in January or February as it is in China and most countries.[17][18]

The Cham zodiac uses the same order as the Chinese zodiac, but replaces the Monkey with the turtle (known locally as kra).

Similarly the Malay zodiac is identical to the Chinese but replaces the Rabbit with the mousedeer (pelanduk) and the Pig with the tortoise (kura or kura-kura).[19] The Dragon (Loong) is normally equated with the nāga but it is sometimes called Big Snake (ular besar) while the Snake sign is called Second Snake (ular sani). This is also recorded in a 19th-century manuscript compiled by John Leyden.[20]

The Thai zodiac includes a nāga in place of the Dragon[21] and begins, not at the Chinese New Year, but either on the first day of the fifth month in the Thai lunar calendar, or during the Songkran New Year festival (now celebrated every 13–15 April), depending on the purpose of the use.[22] Historically, Lan Na (Kingdom around Northern Thailand) also replace pig with Elephant. Modern Thai are changed back into pig, but the name กุน (gu̜n) which was meant elephant are still stuck as zodiac pronunciation [23]

The Gurung zodiac in Nepal includes a Cow instead of Ox, Cat instead of Rabbit, Eagle instead of Dragon (Loong), Bird instead of Rooster, and Deer instead of Pig.[citation needed]

The Bulgar calendar used from the 2nd century[24] and that has been only partially reconstructed uses a similar sixty-year cycle of twelve animal-named years groups which are:[25]

Number Animal In Bulgar
1 Mouse Somor
2 Ox Shegor
3 Uncertain, probably Tiger/Wolf Ver?
4 Rabbit Dvan[sh]
5 Uncertain, probably Loong Ver[eni]?
6 Snake Dilom
7 Horse Imen[shegor]?
8 Ram Teku[chitem]?
9 Unattested, probably Monkey
10 Hen or Rooster Toh
11 Dog Eth
12 Boar Dohs

The Old Mongol calendar uses the Mouse, the Ox, the Leopard, the Hare, the Crocodile, the Serpent, the Horse, the Sheep, the Monkey, the Hen, the Dog and the Hog.[26]

The Tibetan calendar replaces the Rooster with the bird.

The Volga Bulgars, Kazars and other Turkic peoples replaced some animals by local fauna: Leopard (instead of Tiger), Fish or Crocodile (instead of Dragon/Loong), Hedgehog (instead of Monkey), Elephant (instead of Pig), and Camel (instead of Rat/Mouse).[27][28]

In the Persian version of the Eastern zodiac brought by Mongols during the Middle Ages, the Chinese word lóng and Mongol word (Dragon) was translated as nahang meaning "water beast", and may refer to any dangerous aquatic animal both mythical and real (crocodiles, hippos, sharks, sea serpents, etc.). In the 20th century the term nahang is used almost exclusively as meaning Whale, thus switching the Loong for the Whale in the Persian variant.[29][30]

In the traditional Kazakh version of the 12-year animal cycle (Kazakh: мүшел, müşel), the Dragon is substituted by a snail (Kazakh: ұлу, ulw), and the Tiger appears as a leopard (Kazakh: барыс, barıs).[31]

In the Kyrgyz version of the Chinese zodiac (Kyrgyz: мүчөл, müçöl) the words for the Dragon (Kyrgyz: улуу, uluu), Monkey (Kyrgyz: мечин, meçin) and Tiger (Kyrgyz: барс, bars) are only found in Chinese zodiac names, other animal names are regular words used in everyday speech like Mouse, Cow, Rabbit, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Chicken, Dog and Wild boar.[32]


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All early Japanese emoji sets had at least one suitable pictograph for each Eastern zodiac. They also had either a symbol or a pictograph subset for all the Western zodiac signs.

During the harmonization and standardization phase led by Unicode, some additional animals to represent local variants were added. Also, most signs got both a facial pictograph and a full-body one. For the full-body animals (U+1F400...4C), the local variant is recorded in the respective code point annotation. Some original emojis for applicable animals according to the previous subsection do not have such a note and all animal emojis that have been added in subsequent versions of Unicode are also not annotated for zodiac use:

  1. 🐭 (no annotation in Unicode)
    • 🐀 default
    • 🐁 Persia
    • 🐪🐫 (no annotation in Unicode)
  2. 🐮 (no annotation in Unicode)
    • 🐂 default
    • 🐄 Persia
    • 🐃 Vietnam
  3. 🐯 (no annotation in Unicode)
    • 🐅 default
    • 🐆 Persia
    • 🐺 (no annotation in Unicode)
  4. 🐰🐱 (no annotation in Unicode)
    • 🐇 default
    • 🐈 Vietnam
  5. 🐲 (no annotation in Unicode)
    • 🐉 default
    • 🐊 Persia
    • 🐋 Persia, 🐳 (no annotation in Unicode)
    • 🐌 Kazakhstan
    • 🦈 (no annotation in Unicode)
    • 🐟 (no annotation in Unicode)
    • 🦛 (no annotation in Unicode)
    • 🦅 (no annotation in Unicode)
  6. 🐍
  7. 🐴 (no annotation in Unicode)
    • 🐎
  8. 🐏 default
    • 🐐 Vietnam, Malaysia
    • 🐑 Persia
  9. 🐵 (no annotation in Unicode)
    • 🐒 default
    • 🐢 (no annotation in Unicode)
    • 🦔 (no annotation in Unicode)
  10. 🐔 Persia
    • 🐓 default
    • 🐦 (no annotation in Unicode)
  11. 🐶 (no annotation in Unicode)
    • 🐕 default
    • 🐩🦮🐕‍🦺 (no annotation in Unicode)
  12. 🐷 (no annotation in Unicode)
    • 🐖 default
    • 🐗 Japan
    • 🐘 Thailand
    • 🐢 Malaysia
    • 🦌 (no annotation in Unicode)


See also


  1. ^ teacher, Namiko Abe Namiko Abe is a Japanese language; translator; years, as well as a Japanese calligraphy expert She has been a freelance writer for nearly 20. "The Twelve Japanese Zodiac Signs". ThoughtCo. Archived from the original on 2017-10-14. Retrieved 2019-07-16. ((cite web)): |last2= has generic name (help)
  2. ^ a b "Chinese Zodiac and Chinese Year Animals". Archived from the original on 2011-03-24. Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  3. ^ "Khmer Calendar". Archived from the original on 30 October 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Animals of the Thai Zodiac and the Twelve Year Cycle". Thaizer. 2011-09-08. Archived from the original on 2012-08-14. Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  5. ^ Theodora Lau, The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes, pp. 2–8, 30–35, 60–64, 88–94, 118–124, 148–153, 178–184, 208–213, 238–244, 270–278, 306–312, 338–344, Souvenir Press, New York, 2005
  6. ^ ""Almanac" "lunar" zodiac beginning of spring as the boundary dislocation?". China Network. 16 February 2009. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2011.
  7. ^ "What is Your Chinese Zodiac Sign and Chinese Horoscope Zodiac Birth Chart?". Archived from the original on 2019-09-05. Retrieved 2020-01-01.
  8. ^ "Online Four Pillars Calculator". Archived from the original on 2017-07-16. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  9. ^ "Chinese Compatibility Matching". Jan 2016.
  10. ^ "Chinese Zodiac Animal Signs Compatibility".
  11. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2017-10-27. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  12. ^ "Legend of the Chinese Zodiac". 3 March 2003. Archived from the original on 2022-03-20. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  13. ^ Cyndi Chen (2013-02-26). "The 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac 十二生肖". Archived from the original on March 6, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  14. ^ "Year of the Cat OR Year of the Rabbit?". 3 February 2011. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-02-23.
  15. ^ "Japanese Zodiac Signs and Symbols". 5 January 2012. Archived from the original on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  16. ^ "Chinese Zodiac:Legend and Characteristics". Archived from the original on 19 July 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  17. ^ "The Khmer Calendar | Cambodian Religion, Festivals and Zodiac Astrology". 2019-04-25. Archived from the original on 2019-07-19. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  18. ^ "Khmer Chhankitek Calendar". Archived from the original on 30 October 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  19. ^ Farouk Yahya (2015). "Glossary". Malay Magic and Divination in Illuminated Manuscripts. Brill. pp. 296–306. ISBN 978-90-04-30172-6.
  20. ^ Leyden, John. "Cycle of years used by the Malays". Notes and vocabularies in Malay, Thai, Burmese and other minor languages. The British Library. p. 104. Retrieved 16 June 2022 – via Digitised Manuscripts.
  21. ^ ""งูใหญ่-พญานาค-มังกร" รู้จัก 3 สัญลักษณ์ปี "มะโรง"". ประชาชาติธุรกิจ. 5 January 2012. Archived from the original on 1 January 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  22. ^ "การเปลี่ยนวันใหม่ การนับวัน ทางโหราศาสตร์ไทย การเปลี่ยนปีนักษัตร โหราศาสตร์ ดูดวง ทำนายทายทัก". Archived from the original on 2011-01-03.
  23. ^ "ตุงตั๋วเปิ้ง".
  24. ^ "dtrif/abv: Name list of Bulgarian hans". Archived from the original on 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2009-04-15.
  25. ^ Именник на българските ханове – ново тълкуване. М.Москов. С. 1988 г. § 80,70
  26. ^ Grahame, F. R. (1860). The archer and the steppe; or, The empires of Scythia, a history of Russia. p. 258. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  27. ^ Davletshin1, Gamirzan M. (2015). "The Calendar and the Time Account of the Turko-Tatars". Journal of Sustainable Development. 8 (5).
  28. ^ Dani, A. H.; Mohen, J.-P. History of Humanity. Vol. II: From the Third Millennium to the Seventh Century B.C. UNESCO. Archived from the original on 14 June 2020. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  29. ^ Rasulid Hexaglot. P. B. Golden, ed., The King’s Dictionary: The Rasūlid Hexaglot – Fourteenth Century Vocabularies in Arabic, Persian, Turkic, Greek, Armenian and Mongol, tr. T. Halasi-Kun, P. B. Golden, L. Ligeti, and E. Schütz, HO VIII/4, Leiden, 2000.
  30. ^ Jan Gyllenbok, Encyclopaedia of Historical Metrology, Weights, and Measures, Volume 1, 2018, p. 244.
  31. ^ А. Мухамбетова (A. Mukhambetova), Казахский традиционный календарь "The traditional Kazakh calendar" Archived 2022-01-15 at the Wayback Machine (in Russian)
  32. ^ "Chinese Lunar Calendar Stamps from Kyrgyzstan". 2003.


  • Shelly H. Wu. (2005). Chinese Astrology. Publisher: The Career Press, Inc. ISBN 1-56414-796-7.