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Five of the twelve calendar animals

Five of the twelve calendar animals

Late Era of the Six Dynasties (316 – 589), early Sui Dynasty (581 – 618)
Terra cotta
Aproximately H : 21.5 cm W : 11.5 cm
M.C.9860 (le tigre : 3rd year of the cycle), M.C.9856 (the dragon : 5th year of the cycle), M.C.9857 (the snake : 6th year of the cycle), M.C.9858 (the monkey : 9th year of the cycle), M.C.9859 (the rooster : 10th year of the cycle)

As in Europe, there are twelve zodiac signs in Chinese astrology. Nevertheless, they do not correspond to a monthly cycle but to an annual or hourly cycle. Every year is symbolised by an animal. In the past, the Chinese only counted 12 hours in a day, one hour being equivalent to two western hours.

The order of the animals is as follows: the rat, the ox, the tiger, the hare, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and finally the pig.

They are commonly found in Sui and Tang tombs. They are shown in the form of human figures whose heads are replaced by animal heads.

Complete sets are rare, as pieces often break in the tomb. The Cernuschi Museum owns five: the tiger, the dragon, the snake, the monkey and the rooster.

Collection : The Three Kingdoms and Six Dynasties period
Mode d'acquisition : Purchase, 1991.
  • Cinq des douze animaux calendaires

Cinq des douze animaux calendaires
© Musée Cernuschi