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The legend of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac

Updated: Mar 15

The legend about the origin of the Chinese zodiac began with the Jade Emperor, who was one of the most important gods in traditional Chinese religion. The Emperor organised a race and twelve species turned up at the start line: a pig, dog, rooster, monkey, goat, horse, snake, dragon, hare, tiger, ox and rat.

He wanted the Ox to be the first for its honesty and diligence, however the smart Rat covertly rode on the Ox back and took first place at the last moment.

The Tiger was crowned as the King of the Forest while the Dragon was titled the Lord of the Sea, and they ranked behind the Ox.

The Hare won a race with the Dragon and gained number 4. The Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, and Rooster followed.

The Dog came in 11th place, while the Pig took last place.

As well as the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, there are five elements in Chinese astrology; water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. Both the Chinese animal and element are paired with one of the 12 Western zodiac signs, depending on your time and place of birth.

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