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Chinese zodiac
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 Chinese calendar that assigns an animal and its reputed attributes to each year in a repeating twelve-year cycle.[1] In traditional Chinese culture, the Chinese zodiac is very important and exists as a reflection of Chinese philosophy and culture.[2] Chinese folkways held that one's personality is related to the attributes of their zodiac animal.[3] Originating from China, the zodiac and its variations remain popular in many East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, such as Japan,[4] South Korea,[5] Vietnam,[5] Singapore, Nepal, Bhutan, Cambodia, and Thailand.[6]

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 label 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. The 12 Chinese zodiac animals in a cycle are not only used to represent years in China, but also believed to influence people's personalities, career, compatibility, marriage, and fortune.[7]

For the starting date of a zodiac year, there are two schools of thought in Chinese astrology: Chinese New Year or the Start of Spring.


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According to legend, the Jade Emperor held a contest to decide which animals would be lucky enough to be included in the calendar. The winner of the race – the mouse – received the first year of the 12-year cycle, and so on.[8]

However, according to historical records and research,[by whom?] the Chinese zodiac appeared after the establishment of the "Ganji Chronicle Law",[when?] and the twelve animals corresponded to the twelve branches one by one. People born in any given year have animals belonging to that branch of the earth, and accordingly, twelve animals are used for chronology and the genus of each person.

In the Eastern Han Dynasty, Xu Shen said that the word "already" was the image of a snake, and the same was true of "Hai" and "Piggy". Since the twelve branches of the zodiac are easily remembered, twelve animals have been replaced by animals to borrow the ordinal symbols and match them with the branches of the earth to form a chronological symbol system.[9]

"Totem and celestial combination theory", puts forth the idea that the zodiac is ancient animal totem worship combined with astronomical images in astronomy. Among them, the explanation of the totem and celestial combinations is more scientific.


A stone carving of the Chinese zodiac.
Ceramic figurines of calendar animals, from left to right: Tiger-headed, Dragon-headed, Snake-headed, Monkey-headed and Rooster-headed. Tang dynasty era. Musée Cernuschi

The zodiac traditionally begins with the sign of the Rat. The following are the twelve zodiac signs in order, each with its associated characteristics (Heavenly Stems, Earthly Branch, yin/yang force, Trine, and nature element).[10] The belief that everyone and every animal has a role to play in society translates well with Confucian beliefs in a hierarchical society. Just as Confucian beliefs persist in Asia today alongside more modern social views, so does the use of the zodiac.[11]

Number English Animal Earthly branch Yin/yang Trine Fixed element
1 Rat shǔ Yang 1st Water
2 Ox niú chǒu Yin 2nd Earth
3 Tiger yín Yang 3rd Wood
4 Rabbit mǎo Yin 4th Wood
5 Dragon / lóng chén Yang 1st Earth
6 Snake shé Yin 2nd Fire
7 Horse / Yang 3rd Fire
8 Goat yáng wèi Yin 4th Earth
9 Monkey hóu shēn Yang 1st Metal
10 Rooster / yǒu Yin 2nd Metal
11 Dog gǒu Yang 3rd Earth
12 Pig / zhū hài 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. 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.

Michel Ferlus (2013) notes that the Old Chinese names of the earthly branches are of Austroasiatic origin.[12][unreliable source?] Some of Ferlus's comparisons are given below, with Old Chinese reconstructions cited from Baxter & Sagart (2014).[13]

There is also a lexical correspondence with Austronesian:[12]

The terms for the earthly branches are attested from Shang Dynasty inscriptions and were likely also used before Shang times. Ferlus (2013) suggests that the terms may have been ancient pre-Shang borrowings from Austroasiatic languages that were spoken in the Yangtze River region.[12]

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 their sign, the current sign of the year, and the person's generational disposition (teens, mid-20s, and so on). For example, a person born a Tiger is 12, 24, 36, (etc.) years old in the year of the Tiger (2022); in the year of the Rabbit (2023), that person is one year older.

The following table shows the 60-year cycle matched up to the Gregorian calendar for 1924–2043. The sexagenary cycle begins at lichun about February 4 according to some astrological sources.[14][15]

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

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 considered intense and powerful individuals capable of great good, who make great leaders but are rather unpredictable. The three are intelligent, generous, charismatic, charming, authoritative, confident, eloquent, and artistic, but can also 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 naive, pedantic, insecure, selfish, indecisive, and pessimistic.


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.[16] One of the most common ways to explore the compatibility of the zodiac is to use a compatibility chart that shows how each zodiac sign interacts with another zodiac sign.For example, constellations that are considered compatible with each other may have similar values and interests, while constellations that are considered incompatible may have conflicting personalities and ways of communicating.[17]

Chinese zodiac compatibility grid[18]
Sign Best match (compatible) Average match (friendly) Super bad (conflict) Harmful (best avoid)
Rat Dragon, Monkey, Ox Pig, Tiger, Dog, Snake, Rabbit, Rooster, Rat Horse Goat
Ox Snake, Rooster, Rat Monkey, Dog, Rabbit, Tiger, Dragon, Pig, Ox Goat Horse
Tiger Horse, Dog, Pig Rabbit, Dragon, Rooster, Rat, Goat, Ox, Tiger Monkey Snake
Rabbit Pig, Goat, Dog Tiger, Monkey, Rabbit, Ox, Horse, Rat, Snake Rooster Dragon
Dragon Rat, Monkey, Rooster Tiger, Snake, Horse, Goat, Pig, Ox, Dragon Dog Rabbit
Snake Ox, Rooster, Monkey Horse, Dragon, Goat, Dog, Rabbit, Rat, Snake Pig Tiger
Horse Dog, Tiger, Goat Snake, Rabbit, Dragon, Rooster, Pig, Monkey, Horse Rat Ox
Goat Rabbit, Pig, Horse Snake, Goat, Dragon, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Tiger Ox Rat
Monkey Dragon, Rat, Snake Monkey, Dog, Ox, Goat, Rabbit, Rooster, Horse Tiger Pig
Rooster Ox, Snake, Dragon Horse, Rooster, Goat, Pig, Tiger, Monkey, Rat Rabbit Dog
Dog Tiger, Horse, Rabbit Monkey, Pig, Rat, Ox, Snake, Goat, Dog Dragon Rooster
Pig Rabbit, Goat, Tiger Rat, Rooster, Dog, Dragon, Horse, Ox, Pig Snake Monkey

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.[19] 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

This article is missing information about the origin and history of the folktale. Please expand the article to include this information. Further details may exist on the talk page. (June 2019)
This image depicts a scene from "The Great Race" folk story, in which the Ox carries the Rat across the river.

An ancient folktale[20] called "The Great Race" tells of the Jade Emperor's decree 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 naive, 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 for second place.

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

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

In fifth place was the flying Dragon. The Jade Emperor wondered why a swift, airborne creature such as the Dragon did not come in first place. The Dragon explained that it had to stop by a village and bring 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 in the poor creature's direction 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 of the zodiac.

As soon as the Dragon arrived, there came a galloping sound, and the Horse appeared. Hidden on the Horse's hoof was the Snake, whose sudden appearance gave the Horse 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 river blocking the heavenly gate. The Rooster found a raft, and the Monkey and the Goat tugged and pulled, trying to get all the weeds out of the way. With combined efforts, they managed to arrive to the other side. 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 playing in the river water. Its explanation for being late was that it needed a good bath after a long journey, but it almost did not make it to the finish line.

Right when the Jade 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, making it the last animal to arrive.

The Cat eventually drowned and failed to become part of the zodiac. It is said that this is the reason why cats hate water. It is also the reason for the rivalry between the Cat and Rat, as it was the Rat's callous act to push the Cat into the river.


Another version of the folktale tells that the Rat deceived the Ox into letting it jump on its back by promising the Ox that it could hear the Rat sing,[21] before jumping off at the finish line and finishing first. Another variant says that the Rat cheated the Cat out its place at the finish line, by hiding on the back of the Dog, who was too focused to notice that he had a stow-away. The Cat tried to attack the rat in retaliation, but hurt the Dog by accident. This is said to account for the antagonistic dynamic between cats and rats, beyond normal predator and prey behavior, and also why dogs and cats fight.

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, so therefore it is difficult to investigate its real origins. Most historians agree that the Cat is not included, as cats had not yet been introduced to China from India with the arrival of Buddhism. Until recently, however, the Vietnamese have moved away from their traditional texts[22] and literature and, unlike all other countries who follow the Sino lunar calendar, include the Cat instead of the Rabbit as a zodiac animal. The most common explanation for this would be that cats are worshipped by farmers in East Asia, who believe that cats' luck and prosperity protects their crops.[23] Another popular cultural reason is that the ancient word for rabbit (Mao) sounds like cat (Meo).[24]


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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 zodiac is also widely used in commercial culture, for example, in the Chinese New Year market, various products related to the zodiac, such as crafts, toys, books, accessories, paintings and so on are popular.

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).[25] 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.[26] 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.[27][28]

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).[29] 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.[30]

The Thai zodiac includes a nāga in place of the Dragon[31] 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.[32] Historically, Lan Na (Kingdom around Northern Thailand) also replaces pig with elephant. While modern Thai have returned to pig, its name is still กุน (gu̜n), retaining the actual word for elephant in the zodiac.[33]

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

The Bulgar calendar used from the 2nd century[34] and that has been only partially reconstructed uses a similar sixty-year cycle of twelve animal-named years groups.[35]

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.[36]

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).[37][38]

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.[39][40]

In the traditional Kazakh version of the twelve-year animal cycle (Kazakh: мүшел, müşel), the Dragon is replaced by a snail (Kazakh: ұлу, ulw), and the Tiger appears as a leopard (Kazakh: барыс, barıs).[41]

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 include Mouse, Cow, Rabbit, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Chicken, Dog and Wild boar.[42]

Chinese Zodiac by Ethnic Group
Ethnic Group 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Chinese Rat Ox Tiger Rabbit Dragon Snake Horse Goat Monkey Rooster Dog Pig
Korean Rat Ox Tiger Rabbit Dragon Snake Horse Sheep Monkey Rooster Dog Pig
Japanese Rat Ox Tiger Rabbit Dragon Snake Horse Sheep Monkey Rooster Dog Wild Boar
Vietnamese Rat Water Buffalo Tiger Cat Dragon Snake Horse Goat Monkey Rooster Dog Pig
Cambodian Rat Ox Tiger Rabbit Nāga Snake Horse Sheep Monkey Rooster Dog Pig
Cham Rat Ox Tiger Rabbit Dragon Snake Horse Goat Turtle Rooster Dog Pig
Malay Rat Ox Tiger Mousedeer Nāga Snake Horse Goat Monkey Rooster Dog Tortoise
Thai Rat Ox Tiger Rabbit Nāga Snake Horse Goat Monkey Rooster Dog Elephant
Gurung Rat Cow Tiger Cat Eagle Snake Horse Goat Monkey Bird Dog Deer
Bulgar Rat Ox Tiger/Wolf Rabbit Dragon Snake Horse Ram Monkey Rooster Dog Boar
Old Mongolian Rat Ox Leopard Hare Crocodile Serpent Horse Sheep Monkey Hen Dog Hog
Tibetan Rat Ox Tiger Rabbit Dragon Snake Horse Goat Monkey Bird Dog Pig
Kazars Camel Ox Leopard Rabbit Fish/Crocodile Snake Horse Goat Hedgehog Rooster Dog Elephant
Persian Rat Ox Tiger Rabbit Whale Snake Horse Goat Monkey Rooster Dog Pig
Kazakhs Rat Ox Leopard Rabbit Snail Snake Horse Goat Monkey Rooster Dog Pig
Kyrgyz Mouse Cow Tiger Rabbit Dragon Snake Horse Sheep Monkey Chicken Dog Wild Boar
Turkmen Mouse Cow Tiger Rabbit Dragon/Fish Snake Horse Sheep Monkey Chicken Dog Pig
Chinese Zodiac by Ethnic Group (Native Names)
Ethnic Group 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Cham Tikuh Kubao Rimaong Tapay Inagirai Ulanaih Athaih Pabaiy Kra Manuk Athau Papwiy
ꨓꨪꨆꨭꩍ ꨆꨭꨯꨝꨱ ꨣꨪꨠꨯꨱꨮ ꨓꨚꩈ ꩓ꨘꨈꨪꨣꨰ ꨂꨤꨘꨰꩍ ꨀꨔꨰꩍ ꨚꨝꨰꩈ ꨆꨴ ꨠꨘꨭꩀ ꨀꨔꨭꨮ ꨚꩇꨥꨪꩈ
Malay Tikus Kerbau Harimau Pelanduk Naga Ular Kuda Kambing Monyet Ayam Jantan Anjing Kura-kura
تيکوس کرباو ريماو ڤلندوق اولر بسر اولر ثاني کودا کمبيڠ موڽيت أيم أنجيڠ کورا
Bulgar Somor Shegor Ver? Dvan[sh] Ver[eni]? Dilom Imen[shegor]? Teku[chitem]? Toh Eth Dohs
Turkmen Syçan Sygyr Bars Towşan Luw~balyk Ýylan Ýylky Goýun Bijin Towuk It Doňuz
سیچان سیغر بارس طاوشان لو~بالیق ییلان یلقی قویون بیجین طاویق ایت دونگغز

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:


See also



  1. ^ "The Chinese Zodiac". Timothy S. Y. Lam Museum of Anthropology. Retrieved 2023-12-27.
  2. ^ "Chinese Zodiac | Home". UW Departments Web Server. Retrieved 2023-12-27.
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