九龍華仁書院安省舊生會

Wah Yan College Kowloon Alumni Association of Ontario

Welcome to WYKAAO

Contact Us

《Chinese Tales for Everyone: Myths and Legends__10-生肖》__ Kong Shiu Loon (53)

Myths and Legends

(10) The Rat and the Ox

Ancient Chinese astrology was a mathematical estimation of cosmic events based on the moon calendar and time. It began in the Han Dynasty about 200 BC. By coincidence, the 12-year Zodiac Cycle (生肖) is an approximation of the 11.86-year cycle of Jupiter, the largest planet of the solar system.

To enable convenient and interesting calculation, the ancient Immortal Sage decided to attach an animal to each of the 12-year cycle. A person born of a particular year, say, the year of the dragon, will have the dragon as his/her zodiac sign.

The Immortal Sage had chosen the 12 animals. He began to place them in positions when he heard the rat and the ox argued loudly.

The rat initiated the quarrel. It claimed it should go first place because it was always awake at mid-night.

The ox disagreed. He said: “I am big and strong to lead. It would be ridiculous to have a small thing like the mouse to go first.”

The rat laughed. It said: “We should have all creatures in the forest decide who is big. Let’s parade together five days from now. I am confident to measure up to the ox.”

The Immortal Sage watched with great interest. He said: “That seems to be fun. I have arranged my ten animals in positions. I’ll now leave the first two positions open. The public will decide on who will go first in the Zodiac Possession”

The ox was jubilant. He was sure his big size would win him the first position. He consoled the rat in a murmur: “You can eat a lot to get fat to double your size. But, you will still be a small thing.”

At last, the day arrived. It was a sunny fine day. A lot of animals came out to watch the contest. The ox and the rat paraded side by side.

“Look at the big rat!” shouted an owl, “see how incredibly large he is!”

“That rat is a giant!” said a deer.

Everywhere the pair went they heard onlookers exclaimed wonderment, marveling on the extraordinary large size of the rat. No one paid any attention to the ox who was appearing his natural self.

Finally, the Immortal Sage felt he had heard enough. He declared that the rat would take the first position, followed by the ox. The other positions were, in respective orders, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the ram, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Note: This is an English narration of a passage in the book 列子.  It taught us that body size and intelligence were different qualities. A leader should be clever and witty.

You are here: Home Features 《Chinese Tales for Everyone: Myths and Legends__10-生肖》__ Kong Shiu Loon (53)