The Monkey (猴) is the ninth of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac. The Year of the Monkey is associated with the Earthly Branch (地支) symbol Shēn (申).
Chinese Zodiac – Monkey
Recent years of the Monkey in the Chinese Lunar Calendar are 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016.
Chinese Zodiac years are according to the Chinese lunar calendar, starting at Chinese New Year (February 8 in 2016). People born in January or February can check when Chinese New Year falls to confirm their birth sign, for example at the following link. http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/monkey.htm)
Characteristics of Monkeys
Monkeys possesses such traits as curiosity, mischievousness, and cleverness.
The Monkey King
The most famous monkey of all is the legendary hero Sūn Wùkōng (孫悟空) who accompanies the devout Buddhist monk Xuán Zàng (玄奘) in his historic search for the Buddhist scriptures in the epic novel Journey to the West (西遊記). Also known as the Monkey King, he is a very popular character in Chinese paintings, cartoons, plays, films, and puppet shows. Sūn has a magical stave that can be as small as a needle or as large as a pillar.
Monkeys in Chinese Paintings
The monkey plays an important role in Chinese art and folklore for a number of reasons.
First, it is associated with intelligence.
Secondly, its name, which has a homophone meaning ‘nobleman or high official’ (hóu 侯); and its identification with reproduction in terms of ‘descendants’ (hòu 後).
Place the crazy monkey (fēng hóu 瘋猴) on (shàng 上) the back (hóu 後) of a horse (mǎ 馬) sounds exactly like ‘mǎ shàng fēng hóu‘ (馬上封侯): ‘May you quickly be made a high official’ (mǎ shàng meaning either ‘on the horse’ or ‘right away, immediately).
There is another legend of Sūn Wùkōng (孫悟空) stealing and consuming Xi Wangmu’s (西王母) ‘peaches of immortality’.
A peach is a symbol of ‘longevity’. A crazy monkey holding a peach (fèng hóu bào shòu 瘋猴抱壽) sounds exactly like fèng hóu bào shòu 俸侯抱壽, meaning ‘May you become a salaried official and embrace longevity’ .
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