Each year corresponds to a different zodiac sign and animal. The Chinese zodiac consists of 12 animals that denote a person’s birth known as shengxiao: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Each of the animals is named after one favored by the Buddha and is said to influence an individual’s personality.
In 2014, it will be the year of the Horse. Known as Wu, those born during the year of the Horse tend to be clever, possess good communication skills, are cheerful and stubborn. In 2014, they are expected to have a good year and are advised to be quiet and patient.
|Animal||Branch||New Year dates|
|鼠 Shǔe Rat||子 Zǐ||19 February 1996||7 February 2008||25 January 2020|
|牛 Niú Ox||丑 Chǒu||7 February 1997||26 January 2009||12 February 2021|
|虎 Hǔo Tiger||寅 Yín||28 January 1998||14 February 2010||1 February 2022|
|兔 Tù Rabbit||卯 Mǎo||16 February 1999||3 February 2011||22 January 2023|
|龍 Lónga Dragon||辰 Chén||5 February 2000||23 January 2012||10 February 2024|
|蛇 Shé Snake||巳 Sì||24 January 2001||10 February 2013||29 January 2025|
|馬 Mǎt Horse||午 Wǔ||12 February 2002||31 January 2014||17 February 2026|
|羊 Yáng Goat||未 Wèi||1 February 2003||19 February 2015||6 February 2027|
|猴 Hóu Monkey||申 Shēn||22 January 2004||8 February 2016||26 January 2028|
|雞 Jī Rooster||酉 Yǒu||9 February 2005||28 January 2017||13 February 2029|
|狗 Gǒu Dog||戌 Xū||29 January 2006||16 February 2018||3 February 2030|
|豬 Zhū Pig||亥 Hài||18 February 2007||5 February 2019||23 February 2031|
*Throughout China’s long development, no animal has affected its history as greatly as the horse. Ever since its domestication in northeastern China around 5,000 years ago, the horse has been an integral figure in the creation and survival of the Middle Kingdom. Its significance has been such that as early as the Shang Dynasty (ca. 1600-1100 BC), horses and the vehicles they powered were entombed with their owners so as to be with them in the next life. During the Western Zhou Dynasty (ca. 1100-771 BC), military might was measured by the number of war chariots available to a particular kingdom. As the empire grew, horses became essential for maintaining contact with and control of the empire and for transporting goods and supplies throughout the vast and diverse country.
Chinese genius produced three of the most significant inventions in equestrian history: an effective harnessing system based on the breast strap, the stirrup, and the horse collar. Their harnessing system was the first to effectively utilize the horse’s power without hampering its ability to breathe. It allowed for the development of shafted horse-drawn vehicles far more advanced and efficient than their counterparts in the West. In fact, it would be more than a millennium before the breast-strap harnessing system would arrive in Europe. The invention of the stirrup was equally important; for the first time, mounted cavalrymen had a secure platform from which to fight. Sun Ji, one of the leading authorities regarding the history of the horse in China, ranks the inventions of the breast-strap harnessing system and the stirrup, along with the inventions of paper and gunpowder, as two of the four most significant Chinese inventions based on their impact on world history.
*From the Kentucky Horse Park International Museum of the Horse
The Millennium’s First Great