CHINESE ZODIAC


Home Page    |    Flags    |    Logos & Emblems    |    Other Symbols
Mythological Deities    |    Shopping    |    Useful Links    |    Contact Us
0-9 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Chinese Zodiac

The development of Chinese astrology is basically linked to that of astronomy, which came to flourish during the Han Dynasty (2nd century BCE to 2nd century CE).  However, unlike Western astrology, it does not look at the heavenly constellations or planets to predict one's destiny.  Instead, Chinese astrology deals with the divining sciences of Wu Xing1 or the five elements (earth, fire, water, metal, wood), Yin and Yang, Chi, and the cycles of time.  The 5 classical planets associated with the Wu Xing are:

  • Venus - Metal (White Tiger)
  • Jupiter - Wood (Azure Dragon)
  • Mercury - Water (Black Tortoise)
  • Mars - Fire (Vermilion Bird) (may or may not be associated with the phoenix which was also an imperial symbol along with the Dragon)
  • Saturn - Earth (Yellow Dragon)
During the Han period, Chinese astrology developed a close relationship with Chinese philosophy (the theory of the three harmonies: heaven, earth, and water), and uses the principles of Yin and Yang and concepts not to be found in Western astrology, such as the Wu Xing teachings, the 10 Celestial stems, the 12 Earthly Branches, the lunisolar calendar (moon calendar and sun calendar), and the time calculation after year, month, day, and shichen2.

The Chinese zodiac is a classification scheme that assigns an animal and its reputed attributes to each year in a repeating 12-year cycle.  The system of the twelve-year cycle of animal signs was built from observations of the orbit of Jupiter (the Year Star).

Following its orbit around the sun, Chinese astronomers divided the celestial circle into 12 sections, and rounded it to 12 years (from 11.86).  It and its variations remain popular in several East Asian countries including China, Korea, Japan, and Mongolia, as well as in other Asian countries such as Vietnam, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, along with the Buddhist calendar.  According to the Chinese zodiac, 2017 is the year of the Rooster.

According to Chinese folklore, the order of these signs was determined by a race which was won by a clever rat who rode on an ox's back until it was able to cross the finish line first.  Thus, the rat is the first animal, followed by the ox.

Another legend has it that inception of the Chinese zodiac signs began when the Buddha beckoned all the animals to bid him farewell before his departure from the Earth.  Only twelve arrived at his summoning, and so those were given a place of honour with a year being named after each.

1 The Wu Xing, also known as the Five Elements, Five Phases, the Five Agents, the Five Movements, the Five Processes, the Five Steps/Stages and the Five Planets of significant gravity: Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Venus and Mars, is the short form of 'Wu zhong liuxíng zhi qi' or 'the five types of chi dominating at different times'.  It is a fivefold conceptual scheme that many traditional Chinese fields used to explain a wide array of phenomena, from cosmic cycles to the interaction between internal organs, and from the succession of political regimes to the properties of medicinal drugs.  The 'Five Phases' are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.

2 The Chinese zodiac breaks the day into 12 two-hour periods instead of 24 of the one-hour variety.  These 12 two-hour time periods are called shichen, or 'long hours'.  Each shichen corresponds with one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.

The following table shows the twelve signs of the Chinese Zodiac and their characteristics: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water as nature's elements:

Animal
Yin / Yang
Fixed Element
Planet
Yang
Water
Mercury
Yin
Earth
Saturn
Yang
Wood
Jupiter
Yin
Wood
Jupiter
Yang
Earth
Saturn
Yin
Fire
Mars
Yang
Fire
Mars
Yin
Earth
Saturn
Yang
Metal
Venus
Yin
Metal
Venus
Yang
Earth
Saturn
Yin
Water
Mercury

Chinese zodiac signs can offer extraordinary insight into the human psyche.  What's more, these signs open up an expansive view into our personality traits.  Granted, each sign's description is a broad stroke; there are fine details within each of us that may not be addressed, or some details about our sign which may seem contrary to truth.  That's why it's important not to consider the zodiac signs as gospel.  Each of us is unique, so we cannot permit ourselves to be pegged into a single zodiac definition.  Nevertheless, zodiac signs can certainly illuminate an aspect of ourselves that we may have overlooked.  You can determine your animal sign by referring to the year you were born and matching it up with the corresponding animal in the chart below, so which year, and thus animal, are you?

According to the Chinese zodiac, your birth year says more than just your age.  The Chinese believe that the animal ruling your birth year has a profound influence on your personality, relationships, and your destiny.

Below you will see the Chinese Zodiac signs along with the characteristics that correspond with each of them.  In addition, you will find other signs that are considered to be compatible with yours:

Animal
Partnerships / Characteristics
Partners well with the Dragon and Monkey.

Characteristics: Intelligent, adaptable, quick-witted, charming, artistic, sociable.

Partners well with the Snake and Rooster.

Characteristics: Loyal, reliable, thorough, strong, reasonable, steady, determined.

Partners well with the Horse and Dog.

Characteristics: Enthusiastic, courageous, ambitious, leadership, confidence, charismatic

Partners well with the Sheep and Pig.

Characteristics: Trustworthy, empathic, modest, diplomatic, sincere, sociable, caretakers, sensitive.

Partners well with the Rat and Monkey.

Characteristics: Lucky, flexible, eccentric, imaginative, artistic, spiritual, charismatic.

Partners well with the Rooster and Ox.

Characteristics: Philosophical, organized, intelligent, intuitive, elegant, attentive, decisive.

Partners well with the Dog and Tiger.

Characteristics: Adaptable, loyal, courageous, ambitious, intelligent, adventurous, strong.

Partners well with the Pig and Rabbit.

Characteristics: Tasteful, crafty, warm, elegant, charming, intuitive, sensitive, calm.

Partners well with the Dragon and Rat.

Characteristics: Quick-witted, charming, lucky, adaptable, bright, versatile, lively, smart.

Partners well with the Snake and Ox.

Characteristics: Honest, energetic, intelligent, flamboyant, flexible, diverse, confident.

Partners well with the Tiger and Horse.

Characteristics: Loyal, sociable, courageous, diligent, steady, lively, adaptable, smart.

Partners well with the Sheep and Rabbit.

Characteristics: Honourable, philanthropic, determined, optimistic, sincere, sociable.

In Chinese astrology the animal signs assigned by year represent what others perceive you as being or how you present yourself.  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 12 signs, 5 seasons.




Return to top of page.


© dictionaryofsymbols.co.uk