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Mandarin Go | Twelve Chinese Zodiac Signs(ʮФ


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The ShngxioФ, better known in English as the Chinese Zodiac signs, is a scheme that relates each year to an animal and its reputed attributes, according to a 12-year cycle. 12 animal symbols-namely, the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig,in that order. At the end of 12 years, the cycle is repeated. It is believed that all people are born under one of the animal signs and the zodiac has been used by the Chinese to calculate a persons age. It has wide currency in several East Asian countries such as Korea and Japan.


Identifying this scheme using the termzodiacreflects several similarities to the Western zodiac: both have time cycles divided into 12 parts, each labels at least the majority of those parts with names of animals, and each is widely associated with a culture of attributing influence of a persons relationship to the cycle upon their personality and/ or events in their life.


Chinese12-part cycle is divided into years rather than months; contrary to the association with animals implied in the Greek etymology of zodiac, actually four of the Western signsorhousesare represented by humans(one such sign being the twinsGemini)and one is the inanimate balance scale Librathe animals of the Chinese zodiac are not associated with constellations, let alone those spanned by the ecliptic plane.
The Chinese believe that each of the animals in the zodiac has its own distinctive character. For example, the rat is clever, the tiger is brave, the rabbit is cautious, the monkey is agile and the dog is faithful.


There are several different stories explaining the choice of the 12 animals and the order in which they come. The most popular legend has it that the Emperor of Heaven or the Jade Emperor told a group of animals that they had to cross a certain river to arrive at a particular destination on an appointed day. The first 12 animals to get there would represent the years for people on earth to use.


The ox carried the cat and the rat on its back across the river, followed by the other animals. But the clever rat did not want the cat to win, so just before the ox reached the bank, the rat pushed the cat into the river (probably thats why theres no Year of the Cat!) and jumped over the head of the ox to take first position.

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