The Chinese Zodiac—Dragon, Rat, Ox, and Tiger

Hello! My name is Edwin and I’m a third-year Art History major. I was born in 2000 and my Chinese zodiac sign is the Dragon. Reading through the personality traits associated with my zodiac sign was quite amusing since some of them were spot-on while others completely missed the mark. I definitely agree with the notion that dragons are idealists and perfectionists as I generally hold myself to a very high standard regardless of what I’m doing; however, I also do wonder how much of the latter is tied to genetics and/or to the environment in which I was brought up. “The helpless feeling of youthful strength ebbing away is unbearable to them” resonated the most with me since I just turned 20 last summer, but I’m sure many others currently share this sentiment as we’re taking classes remotely.
While I personally do not know anyone born in the year of the Rat, the belief that Rat people are financially driven and particular about money has always been ingrained in my mind. The wide range of symbolic associations surrounding the Rat are also fascinating; Hindu and Japanese folklore view the animal as a companion to deities whereas Irish folklore says that rats can be repelled by reciting poetry.
The myths around the Ox drew my attention—particularly how “the Assyrians revered the bull as a beneficent winged protector.” I couldn’t help but think of Red Bull and their slogan “Red Bull gives you wings”; while the connection between the two may be a stretch and a product of my own imagination, I’m curious how often obscure or long-forgotten traditional tales make their way into pop culture without us knowing.
Figure 1. A sculpture of an Assyrian winged bull at the British Museum, London, UK.
Given that one of my two older brothers was born in the year of the Tiger, researching the traits associated with the Tiger was very interesting. My brother is definitely unpredictable, always appearing calm on the surface but can be “tempestuous” at times when he randomly decides to throw a temper tantrum. Both Sumatran and Malaysian folklore associate the Tiger with ideas of reincarnation and life after death, which leaves me to wonder how neighbouring regions may share similar vernacular beliefs.

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