Free Zodiac Report
More About Chinese Zodiac
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Chinese Zodiac Year Cutoff
Yin Yang & 5 Elements
Career by 5 Elements
Is It Rat or Mouse
Chinese Fortune Calendar
Chinese Astrology Online
Chinese Horoscope Online
Chinese Palm Reading
Year of Snake
The Legend of Chinese
The Race to Emperor’s Summon
The legend has it that the Jade Emperor (the God who ruled Heaven and
Earth, according to Taoism) summoned all the animals to see him in
heaven. The Jade Emperor was delighted with the first 12 animals arrived
and assigned them as representatives of the years. There was a story
that the cat was initially a good friend of the rat, and had asked the
rat to wake him for the race. But the rat did not, so the cat missed the
race and was not assigned to the zodiac year. The cat was furious and
became rat’s worse enemy ever after.
The story also says the result of the race to Emperor’s meeting
determined the order in which they were assigned. It says that, when all
animals had to cross the river, the rat, being very smart but cannot
swim, asked to ride on ox’s back. After the kind-hearted ox reached the
other side, the rat ran off quickly, and was the first to reach the
meeting and to be assigned.
There is another saying that it was Lord Buddha who summoned the animals
to bid him farewell before he returned to haven. He rewarded each of the
12 animals who came to represent the year.
Opening the World
Another legend describes how zodiac animals were assigned to the time of
the day. See More About Chinese Zodiac
regarding assigning Zodiac to the hours. The story says that before the
creation of all beings, the old world was enclosed in a lifeless
atmosphere. It was the Rat who bit opened the enclosure, and caused the
interaction of the vital elements and the creation of all beings. This
happened during the first of the twelve time-periods of a day in ancient
China, therefore, “opening the world” made Rat the first zodiac animal.
Yin-Yang Toe (Not Tic-Tac-Toe)
Yet another legend is based on the Yin-Yang
concept. In Chinese Calendar Science, time is described in 10 Heavenly
Branches (the upper portion) and 12 Earthly Branches (the bottom
portion). As the zodiac animals representing the 12 Earthly Branches,
their sequence was determined based on their toes (which is the bottom
portion of their body). Those with odd number toes are said to have Yang
quality, and are placed under the odd numbered sequence.
Those with even number or no toes (as zero
is an even number) are said to have Yin quality, and are placed under
the even numbered sequence.
Note that because of a unique feature of rat's
toes, he earned the first place of the zodiac assignment. The rat’s front
leg has 4 toes and hind leg has 5 toes indicating a change from even
number to odd number, and it coincides with the first time-period of a
day, which is 11pm to 1am, symbolizing a transition from night to
morning, or Yin (even number) to Yang (odd number).
Rat, although the smallest animal of the twelve, is actually the most
significant one of all. Each Year of Rat is the start of a new cycle,
and is considered by Chinese the beginning of changes.
See Yin-Yang and 5 Elements and
Half-Yin and Half-Yang Rat for more info.