How does the Lunar or Chinese Zodiac work?
I consulted some of the books which have been kept in my personal library and got acquainted with some interesting facts about the Chinese Zodiac/calendar:
The exact origins of the 12 animal signs is rather lost in the obscurity of time, but there is no doubt that they originated in China. In terms of Chinese astrological "history", the 12 animals are a rather recent introduction - for it seems that in the 2nd Century BC, Ssu Ma Chi'en (163-85 BC), who was the grand astrologer to Emperor Wu Ti , wrote the Shi Chi or "Historical Record" which was a complete history of the Chinese up to that time. In this book, there is no "Zodiac" or mention of the 12 animals.
Originally, the 12-year cycle that it takes the planet Jupiter to complete one orbit of the sky was believed to have defined the earlier calendars. The Chinese still call this cycle "the Great Year" and each month corresponds to one of our own years.
By the 10th Century, however, after Buddhism had been established in China, Calendar Almanacs, such as those written by the Tibetan monks in exile in the "Caves of the Thousand Buddhas" monastery in the remote reaches of North-western China, depicting the 12 animals, came into existence.
The legend of the Conference of animals called by the Buddha and naming of the 12 year cycle after 12 animals, for the Chinese Calendar:
According to a legend, it was the Buddha (583-483 BC) who created the 12-animal cycle. He is believed to have invited all the animals in the land to hold a conference together. The Buddha was not surprised, as in his wisdom, he knew that some of the animals were friendly towards others, while other animals were enemies.
To encourage attendance, he decided to name the years after the first twelve animals, in the order of their arrival.
An invitation from the Buddha was hard to resist, and when they heard the news, all the animals set off at once , each determined to be the first to arrive.
Tiger, because of his energy and speed, at first took the lead. Soon, though, he began to tire and the early lead that he had achieved over his next rival Ox, who may have been slow, but had great stamina, soon dissipated. Ox reached the Buddha ahead of Tiger and prepared to bow down low to receive his honour.
But, what the sturdy ox did not know was that clever Rat had sneaked a ride on his tail !! Just before Ox's nose touched the floor at the Buddha's feet, nimble and swift Rat ran up Ox's tail, along his back and jumped off his nose, thus winning the race to be the first to bow before the Buddha. So Rat (or "Tze" is its Chinese name), became the first animal in the Chinese Zodiac, followed by a rather resentful Ox (Chou).
Tiger (Yin), Rabbit (Mao), Dragon (Chen), Snake (Si), Horse (Wu), Goat (Wei), Monkey (Shen), Rooster (You), Dog (Xu) and Pig (Hai), all followed, and in that order, paid homage to the Buddha and were each honoured with a year.
Interestingly, Dragon is the only mythical beast in the Chinese circle of Zodiacal animals.
According to the Lunar or Chinese Zodiac, each year is assigned to the above-referred animals according to a 12-year cycle. As such, the year of the Dog includes, for example 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018 and 2030.
The next year is the Year of the Dog (2018) following the present Year of the Rooster (2017):
As with the Western Zodiac, persons born within that year are said to possess certain personality traits or have pre-destined luck in romance, fortune and other aspects which bring happiness or sorrow.
It is believed that Rooster is so resourceful that he will find a worm even in the desert and he is associated with the "five virtues" - fortune, courage, goodness, confidence and honour.
In ancient Chinese writings, Dog was represented as a hand holding a spear. As such Dog symbolises alertness and loyalty and is associated with justice and compassion.
The Sign of the Dog emphasises the importance of the self in those who are born under its sign. They are intelligent persons who hold much of their thought process deep inside and are not always known for being able to share these thoughts freely with others.
Those born under the Sign of the Dog are said to live very rich inner lives, underlining the more personal aspects of basic human life. They often get lost in thought, appreciate the options that they encounter every single day and can often entertain themselves for hours on end with their own amusements and thoughts.
About the 3 coins brought out by Monnaie de Paris (the Paris Mint):
The three coins issued by the Monnaie de Paris (or the Paris Mint), in pure gold and silver come in three sizes and denominations (10, 20 & 50 Euros):
The Obverse sides of all three coins depicts a Chow Chow, a traditional dog breed originally from Northern China, where it is referred to as "Songshi Quan", (which means a "puffy-lion dog"). The dog is surrounded by a motif of Chinese inspiration and a graphic pattern. The Chow Chow is shown emerging from the middle of the coin through a temple door.
The words "ANEE DU CHIEN" (meaning "Year of the Dog") are placed along the upper periphery above the primary design. The traditional character for the word "Dog", ("Xu" in Chinese) is placed on the Chow Chow image is the work of a master of Chinese calligraphy. The year "2018" appears on the centre top periphery.
The 50 Euro Gold Coin Obverse shown against a backdrop of an image of a 20 Euro Silver Coin Reverse
The Obverse face of a 10 and 20 Euro Silver Coin
The Obverse face of a 50 Euro Gold Coin
1) Honouring Louis Braille on the Bicentenary of his birth in 2009
2) Honouring Charles Eduord Jeanneret popularly known as Le Corbusieur, the French architect who built the modern city of Chandigarh & several other projects: A 10 Franc Banknote issued by the Swiss National Bank
3) Fort St. George Museum, Chennai (Part iii): i) Indo-Danish coins ii) Indo-Dutch coins iii) Indo-French coins iv) Indo-Portuguese coins
4) a) Central Bank of West African States issues: the "Franc African Financial Community" (FCFA) b) Bank of Central African States issues : the "Franc Financial Cooperation in Central Africa (FFCCA)
5) French Indo-China issues: A silver one Paistre coin issued in 1895
6) Financial Institution for issuing uniform currency/coinage for French Overseas Territories in the Pacific & French Southern Territories of Antarctica: The Institut d'emission d'outre-Mer (IEOM) for French Polynesia (Tahiti), New caledonia, Wallis-et-Futuna and the erstwhile New Hebrides (present day Vanuatu)
7) Coinage of the French Polynesian Island of New Caledonia (or Nouvelle-Caledonie in French) - the CFP Franc
8) Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo and Napoleon's exile to St. Helena (Part I): A one Crown Commemorative Coin issued by the Ascension Island
9) Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo and Napoleon's exile to St. Helena (Part II) : coins commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo: 1) A 5 GBP coin issued by the Royal Mint UK: 2) A "Drie Landen Zilverset" issued by the Royal Dutch Mint - which includes coins of Netherlands, Belgium and UK
10) Jeanne d'Arc or Joan of Arc or "The Maid of Orleans" or "La Pucelle": 200 & 50 Euro gold coins and 10 Euro Silver coins issued by Monnaie de Paris in July 2016
11) i)"Europa Coin Programme" or the Eurostar Programme ii) Monnaie de Paris has issued a series of six coins with the theme "The Age of Iron & Glass" in January 2017
12) 100th Anniversary of Auguste Rodin's passing away commemorated with gold and silver Euro coins issued by the Monnaie de Paris under its on-going "The 7 Arts" Coin Series
13) Statue of Liberty, Paris, France: "Treasures of Paris": Coin series issued by Monnaie de Paris on 20.01.2017
14) Marianne (or Liberty): "The Trilogy": A set of Euro denominated coins in Gold and silver brought out by Monnaie de Paris in January 2017