The Chinese zodiac is a classification scheme well known to people in the Chinese society and is based on the lunar calendar that assigns an animal and its reputed attributes to each year in a repeating 12-year cycle. The images of the Chinese zodiac totems embody profound cultural meanings.
This book contains Chinese zodiac-related special articles, published in The National Palace Museum Monthly of Chinese Art, written by Professor Chuang Chi-fa to celebrate the Chinese New Year over several decades. The special articles are complemented with exquisite Chinese zodiac pictures to introduce to readers vivid and fascinating totem stories. The Chinese zodiac culture originated from totem worship in ancient times, and the names of these animals sometimes become the "surnames" and "given names" of minority groups today. For example, "Na-a" (hen) is a given name for female Lahu people from the Yunnan Province because chicken are a symbol of auspiciousness in said culture. In fact, Chinese zodiac totem worship is a factor determining whether people from different totem groups can enter intermarriages. Many place names such as Shujie Street (literally "Rat Street) and Huchang (literally "Tiger Field") in Yunnan–Guizhou are "traces" of the Chinese zodiac. Professor Chuang,s amusing Chinese zodiac stories will surely expand readers, horizons on the Chinese zodiac totem culture.