Chinese Zodiac

In Chinese astrology the zodiac of twelve animal signs represents twelve different types of personality. The zodiac traditionally begins with the sign of the Rat, and there are many stories about the Origins of the Chinese Zodiac which explain why this is so (see below). The following are the twelve zodiac signs in order and their characteristics.

12 animals of Chinese astrology:
Rat Ox
Tiger Rabbit
Dragon Snake
Horse Sheep
Monkey Rooster
Dog Pig



  1. Rat (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Water): Forthright, disciplined, systematic, meticulous, charismatic, hardworking, industrious, charming, eloquent, sociable, shrewd. Can be manipulative, cruel, dictatorial, rigid, selfish, obstinate, critical, over-ambitious, ruthless, intolerant, scheming, sturdy.
  2. Ox (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Water): Dependable, calm, methodical, patient, hardworking, ambitious, conventional, steady, modest, logical, resolute, tenacious. Can be stubborn, narrow-minded, materialistic, rigid, demanding.
  3. Tiger (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Wood): Unpredictable, rebellious, colorful, powerful, passionate, daring, impulsive, vigorous, stimulating, sincere, affectionate, humanitarian, generous. Can be restless, reckless, impatient, quick-tempered, obstinate, selfish.
  4. Rabbit (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Wood): Gracious, kind, sensitive, soft-spoken, amiable, elegant, reserved, cautious, artistic, thorough, tender, self-assured, astute, compassionate, flexible. Can be moody, detached, superficial, self-indulgent, opportunistic, lazy.
  5. Dragon (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Wood): Magnanimous, stately, vigorous, strong, self-assured, proud, noble, direct, dignified, zealous, fiery, passionate, decisive, pioneering, ambitious, generous, loyal. Can be arrogant, imperious, tyrannical, demanding, eccentric, grandiloquent and extremely bombastic, prejudiced, dogmatic, over-bearing, violent, impetuous, brash.
  6. Snake (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Fire): Deep thinker, wise, mystic, graceful, soft-spoken, sensual, creative, prudent, shrewd, ambitious, elegant, cautious, responsible, calm, strong, constant, purposeful. Can be loner, bad communicator, possessive, hedonistic, self-doubting, distrustful, mendacious.
  7. Horse (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Fire): Cheerful, popular, quick-witted, changeable, earthy, perceptive, talkative, agile mentally and physically, magnetic, intelligent, astute, flexible, open-minded. Can be fickle, anxious, rude, gullible, stubborn, lack stability and perseverance.
  8. Sheep (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Fire): Righteous, sincere, sympathetic, mild-mannered, shy, artistic, creative, gentle, compassionate, understanding, mothering, determined, peaceful, generous, seeks security. Can be moody, indecisive, over-passive, worrier, pessimistic, over-sensitive, complainer.
  9. Monkey (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Metal): Inventor, motivator, improviser, quick-witted, inquisitive, flexible, innovative, problem solver, self-assured, sociable, polite, dignified, competitive, objective, factual, intellectual. Can be egotistical, vain, selfish, cunning, jealous, suspicious.
  10. Rooster (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Metal): Acute, neat, meticulous, organized, self-assured, decisive, conservative, critical, perfectionist, alert, zealous, practical, scientific, responsible. Can be over zealous and critical, puritanical, egotistical, abrasive, opinionated.
  11. Dog (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Metal): Honest, intelligent, straightforward, loyal, sense of justice and fair play, attractive, amiable, unpretentious, sociable, open-minded, idealistic, moralistic, practical, affectionate, dogged. Can be cynical, lazy, cold, judgmental, pessimistic, worrier, stubborn, quarrelsome.
  12. Pig (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Water): Honest, simple, gallant, sturdy, sociable, peace-loving, patient, loyal, hard-working, trusting, sincere, calm, understanding, thoughtful, scrupulous, passionate, intelligent. Can be naive, over-reliant, self-indulgent, gullible, fatalistic, materialistic.

In Chinese astrology the animal signs assigned by year represent what others perceive you as being or how you present yourself. It is a common misconception that the animals assigned by year are the only signs, and many western descriptions of Chinese astrology draw solely on this system. In fact, there are also animal signs assigned by month (called inner animals) and hours of the day (called secret animals).

To sum it up, while a person might appear to be a dragon because they were born in the year of the dragon, they might also be a snake internally and an ox secretively. In total, this makes for 8,640 possible combinations (five elements x 12 animals in the 60 year cycle (12 x 5 = 60) , 12 months, 12 times of day) that a person might be. These are all considered critical for the proper use of Chinese astrology.


The months – the inner animals

The 12 animals are also linked to the traditional Chinese agricultural calendar, which runs alongside the better known lunar calendar. Instead of months, this calendar is divided into 24 two week segments known as Solar Terms. Each animal is linked to two of these solar terms for a period similar to the Western month. Unlike the 60 year lunar calendar, which can vary by as much as a month in relation to the Western calendar, the agricultural calendar varies by only one day, beginning on the Western February 3rd or 4th every year. Again unlike the cycle of the lunar years, which begins with the Rat, the agricultural calendar begins with the Tiger as it is the first animal of spring.


An individual\’s monthly animal sign is called their inner animal and is concerned with what motivates a person. Since this sign dictates the person\’s love life and inner persona, it is critical to a proper understanding of the individual\’s compatibility with other signs.


As each sign is linked to a month of the solar year, it is thereby also linked to a season. Each of the elements is also linked to a season (see above), and the element that shares a season with a sign is known as that sign’s fixed element. In other words, that element is believed to impart some of its characteristics to the sign concerned. The fixed element of each sign applies also to the year and hour signs, and not just the monthly sign. It is important to note that the fixed element is separate from the cycle of elements which interact with the signs in the 60 year cycle.


Solar Longitude Solar term Western date Lunar Month Fixed Element Season
314° 立春 lìchūn Feb 04 – Feb 18 1st -寅 Tiger Wood Spring
329° 雨水 yǔshuǐ Feb 19 – Mar 05
344° 啓蟄 qǐzhé (驚蟄 jīngzhé) Mar 06 – Mar 20 2nd – 卯 Rabbit Wood Spring
春分 chūnfēn Mar 21 – Apr 04
14° 清明 qīngmíng Apr 05 – Apr 19 3rd – 辰 Dragon Wood Spring
29° 穀雨 gǔyǔ Apr 20 – May 04
44° 立夏 lìxià May 05 – May 20 4th – 巳 Snake Fire Summer
59° 小滿 xiǎomǎn May 21 – June 05
74° 芒種 mángzhòng Jun 06 – Jun 20 5th – 午 Horse Fire Summer
89° 夏至 xiàzhì Jun 21 – Jul 06
104° 小暑 xiǎoshǔ Jul 07 – Jul 22 6th – 未 Sheep Fire Summer
119° 大暑 dàshǔ Jul 23 – Aug 06
134° 立秋 lìqiū Aug 07 – Aug 22 7th – 申 Monkey Metal Autumn
149° 處暑 chùshǔ Aug 23 – Sep 07
164° 白露 báilù Sep 08 – Sep 22 8th – 酉 Rooster Metal Autumn
181° 秋分 qiūfēn Sep 23 – Oct 07
194° 寒露 hánlù Oct 08 – Oct 22 9th – 戌 Dog Metal Autumn
211° 霜降 shuāngjiàng Oct 23 – Nov 06
224° 立冬 lìdōng Nov 07 – Nov 21 10th – 亥 Pig Water Winter
244° 小雪 xiǎoxuě Nov 22 – Dec 06
251° 大雪 dàxuě Dec 07 – Dec 21 11th – 子 Rat Water Winter
271° 冬至 dōngzhì Dec 22 – Jan 05
284° 小寒 xiǎohán Jan 06 – Jan 19 12th – 丑 Ox Water Winter
301° 大寒 dàhán Jan 20 – Feb 03



The hours – the secret animals

The Chinese zodiac is also used to label times of day, with each sign corresponding to a \”large-hour\” or shichen (時辰), which is a two-hour period (24 divided by 12 animals). It is therefore important to know the exact time of birth to determine it. The secret animal is thought to be a person’s truest representation, since this animal is determined by the smallest denominator: a person’s birth hour. As this sign is based on the position of the sun in the sky and not the time of your local clock, it is important to compensate for daylight saving time. However, some online systems already compensate for daylight savings time, and astrologers may compensate your time for you oblivious to the fact that you\’ve compensated it yourself, leading to an inaccurate reading.


The large-hour in which a person is born is their secret animal. It is a person\’s own true sign which their personality is based on. Note that while this chart is quite accurate, the exact time at which each animal begins shifts by the day.


  • 23:00 – 01:00: 子 rat
  • 01:00 – 03:00: 丑 ox
  • 04:00 – 05:00: 寅 tiger
  • 05:00 – 07:00: 卯 rabbit
  • 07:00 – 09:00: 辰 dragon
  • 09:00 – 11:00: 巳 snake
  • 11:00 – 13:00: 午 horse
  • 13:00 – 15:00: 未 sheep
  • 15:00 – 17:00: 申 monkey
  • 17:00 – 19:00: 酉 rooster
  • 19:00 – 21:00: 戌 dog
  • 21:00 – 23:00: 亥 boar


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article \”Chinese astrology\”.
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