生肖 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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shēngxiào 生肖

The Chinese Zodiac / Animal of the Year

也叫“属相”。中国古人把与农业生活相关的11种动物,加上特有的文化图腾“龙”,与十二地支配合进行纪年,每个人出生的年份都有相对应的生肖动物,即十二生肖。十二生肖与十二地支的配合与排序如下:子鼠、丑牛、寅虎、卯兔、辰龙、巳蛇、午马、未羊、申猴、酉鸡、戌狗、亥猪。十二生肖至迟在东汉已经定型,成为中国民俗文化中富有特色的内容。直到今天,一个人的本命年、婚配、命运以及节日、剪纸等民间艺术,仍能看到生肖文化的身影。

Shengxiao (生肖) in Chinese refers to the twelve animals that make up the Chinese Zodiac. The ancient Chinese included in this list eleven animals closely associated with farming, plus the dragon, a legendary animal which has cultural symbolic meaning in China. They were then associated with the twelve Earthly Branches (in a twelve-year cycle) to each represent a year. Thus a person’s year of birth is also associated with a specific animal. Combining the Zodiac with the Branches produces the following order: zishu (子鼠 rat), chouniu (丑牛 ox), yinhu(寅虎 tiger), maotu (卯兔 rabbit), chenlong (辰龙 dragon), sishe (巳蛇 snake), wuma (午马 horse), weiyang (未羊 sheep), shenhou (申猴 monkey), youji (酉鸡 rooster), xugou (戌狗 dog), and haizhu (亥猪 pig). The Zodiac had already entered into use by the Eastern Han Dynasty, and has been a distinctive feature of Chinese culture and folk tradition ever since. Today, the influence of the Chinese Zodiac culture can still be found in the tradition of a person’s animal birth year, marriage and fortune-telling, during festivals and in folk arts, like paper-cutting.

引例 Citation:

◎昔在武川镇生汝兄弟,大者属鼠,次者属兔,汝身属蛇。(《北史·宇文护传》)

(过去我住在武川镇,生下你们兄弟三人,老大属鼠,老二属兔,你属蛇。)

When I lived in the town of Wuchuan, you three brothers were born. The eldest is a Rat, the second a Rabbit, and you are a Snake. (The History of the Northern Dynasties)

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