The Pig (猪) is the twelfth or last of the 12-year cycle of animals in the Chinese zodiac. The Year of the Pig is associated with the Earthly Branch (地支) symbol hài (亥). The first day, the Lunar New Year Day, of Year Jǐ Hài (己亥年) falls on 5 February 2019.

Recent years of the Pig in the Chinese Lunar Calendar are 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, and 2007.

The Year of the Pig is preceded by the Year of the Dog.  Next year (2020) will be the Year of the Rat.

Chinese Zodiac years are based on the Chinese lunar calendar. Interested people born in January or February can check the date of the Chinese New Year to confirm their birth sign, for example at the following site:

https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/pig.htm

Characteristic of people born in the Year of the Pig

According to Chinese folklore, most people born in the Chinese zodiac sign of the Pig possess a gracious and easy-going personality and would not harm others. They have a calm appearance and a kind heart. They do things with strength, and are tolerant and optimistic. They show perseverance in trying to achieve their goals step by step. However, they may at times become impatient when in trouble. Fortunately, they are quick to rebuild their confidence.

They can be stubborn, self-indulgent, easy to get angry and materialistic. They can fall asleep easily.

 

This is just a folklore with no scientific evidence. Please do not take this seriously. I teach in high schools for many years, students of the same class are of similar age (belong to the same Chinese zodiac), their characters can be very different.

 

 

Pigs in History

Archaeological evidence suggests that pigs were domesticated from wild boar as early as 13,000–12,700 BC in the Middle East in the Tigris Basin. There was also a separate domestication in China which took place more than 8000 years ago.

Domestic pigs are farmed primarily for the consumption of their flesh, called pork. The animal’s bones, hide, and bristles are also used in commercial products. The adaptable nature and omnivorous diet of the wild boar allowed early humans to domesticate it readily.

Pigs are unable to sweat; they wallow in mud to cool down. Their mucky appearance gives pigs an undeserved reputation for slovenliness. In fact, pigs are some of the cleanest animals around, refusing to excrete anywhere near their living or eating areas when given a choice.

Bronze and pottery figures of pig have been excavated from ancient tombs and burial sites. This shows the importance of pigs as a symbol of a family’s prosperity.

 

A rare bronze pig figurine attributed to Shang Dynasty (1766-1122BC)(Photo credits: Pinterest/Chungton.com.tw)

 

A pottery sculpture in the shape of a pig attritubed to Han Dynasty 206 BC – 220 AC, height: 32 cm (Photo credits: laserowantiques.com)

 

Pigs in Chinese Folklore and Literature

Zhu Bajie (猪八戒), is one of the three followers of Tang Dynasty Buddhist monk Tang Sanzang (唐三藏) and a major character of the novel Journey to the West (西遊記).

Zhu Bajie (猪八戒) (Photo credits: Wikipedia)

Journey to the West is a famous Chinese novel published in the 16th century during Ming Dynasty written by Wu Cheng’en (吳承恩). The popular English translation is Monkey by Arthur Waley in 1942.

The novel is an extended account of the legendary pilgrimage of Tang Sanzang who travelled from China to India via the Central Asia to obtain Buddhist sutras (sacred scriptures) and returned after many trials and much suffering.

Zhu means pig, and Bajie means ‘eight precepts’. Zhu Bajie is a complex character in the novel which depicts the many weaknesses of human nature. He looks like a terrible monster, part pig and part human. He often gets himself and his companions into trouble through his laziness, greediness and lusting after pretty women. He is jealous of Sun Wukong (孫悟空), the Monkey, and always tries to bring him down.

 

Pigs as Symbol of Wealth, Prosperity and Fertility

The pig is one of the most important domestic animals in Chinese history where ownership of pigs is a sign of wealth.

Pig plays as a sign of general wealth, prosperity, fertility and overall good fortune.

A gold pig for decoration or as a money box for children
A gold necklace worn by a bride in a wedding ceremony showing multi-layers of pigs and with piglets, as good omens to start a family (Photo credits: Lukfook Jewellery, Hong Kong)

 

A roasted suckling pig is a popular dish in a Chinese banquet and it is also used as an offering to ancestors and deities in traditional ceremonies.

A roasted suckling pig

 

Pigs in Chinese Paintings

Painting of a pig by Xu Beihong (1895 – 1953), ink on paper (Photo credits: wikiart.org)
Another painting of a pig by Xu Beihong (1895 – 1953), ink on paper (Photo credits: wikiart.org)

 

Painting of a pig by Chao Shao Ang (1905 – 1998), (Photo Credits: lingnanart.com)

 

Bibliography :

中国剪纸 Paper Cut in China 十二生肖 The twelve symbol animals 漢坤東方出品

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_zodiac

https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/pig.htm

Bjaaland Welch, Patricia (2008) Chinese Art- A guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery Tuttle Publishing ISBN: 978-08048-3864-1

https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%8C%AA%E5%85%AB%E6%88%92