Basic Chinese Animal Astrology

The foundation of the Chinese Zodiac, also called Chinese Animal Astrology, was from the 12 “Earthly Branches” represented by the 12 animal symbols (The Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Boar), the five elements (metal, water, wood, fire, and earth) and the Yin-Yang theory.

The total cycle takes sixty years (created by multiplying the twelve animals and five elements) to complete — to return to a year with the same animal sign and same element.  The cycle of 60 counting system begins with Wood Rat and ends with Metal Boar.

As most people know, the Chinese Lunar cycle is not based on 12 linear months, as in the Western calendar, but on a 12-year repeating  cycle.  Each astrological animal symbol represents not a month, but a year.  And again, unlike the Western calendar that is based upon the movements of the Sun, the Chinese astrological calendar has its deep and ancient roots in the movements of the Moon.

There are many myths and legends about how the 12 animals representing the 12 years in a lunar cycle came into being.  One of the most popular is that the Lord Buddha called all the animals to come to him before departing this earth.  Only 12 animals came, and as a reward he named a lunar year after each according to the order in which it arrived.  The Rat was the first to get there, crossing the final river on the back of the Ox and jumping down in front.  Following them were the Tiger, Rabbit (Hare), Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep (Goat, Ram), Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar (Pig).

The Chinese believe that at their New Year, everyone becomes a year older.  They also  believe that the year of a person’s birth is the primary factor in determining that person’s personality traits, physical and mental attributes and degree of success and happiness throughout his/her lifetime.

The compatibility of the animal signs in the Chinese system of  astrology are similar to the favorable and unfavorable aspects in the western astrology.  Each animal sign is 30 degrees apart and in clockwise direction. PLEASE VISIT “THE ASPECT”  OF THIS WEBSITE FOR MORE DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT THE VARIOUS ASPECTS.

0 Degree  (Same sign) –  Intensity, can be favorable or unfavorable

30 Degrees –  Growth, can be uncomfortable

90 Degrees (Square)  –  Challenges (Example: Rat and Rabbit)

120 Degrees –  Comfortable (Example: Rat and Dragon)

150 Degrees –  Adjustments

180 Degrees  (Opposite)  – Confrontation (Example: Rat and Horse)

Here you will learn the basic Chinese Astrology.  The advance Chinese Astrology goes much deeper than just the 12 animal signs, much as the Western Astrology does with the basic 12 Sun signs versus an individual’s specific chart.  In advance Chinese Astrology, one will learn Pa-Chee (or 8 Characters) — Four Pillars of Destiny which consists of the Year of Birth, the Month of Birth, the Day of Birth, and the Hour of Birth.

I hope you will enjoy widening your field of study to the basic Chinese Animal Astrology because it is another way of clarifying one’s spiritual path.  Understanding the signs will give you a deeper understanding of yourself, your family members and your friends.


The Twelve Animal Signs 

1.  Rat (Water, North),  2. Ox (Earth, North-Northeast),  3. Tiger (Wood,  East-Northeast),  4. Rabbit (Wood, East),  5. Dragon (Earth, East-Southeast),  6. Snake (Fire, South-Southeast),  7. Horse (Fire, South),  8.  Sheep (Earth, South-Southwest),  9. Monkey (Metal, West-Southwest),  10. Rooster (Metal, West),  11. Dog (Earth, West-Northwest),  12. Boar (Water, North-Northwest).



The following images of 12 animal signs of the Chinese Zodiac are my painting similar to the art form of ancient Chinese paper-cutting.

1.  Rat Years  (Water, Yang, North)   Key Word:  Ambitious

01/31/1900  to 02/18/1901 (Metal),  02/18/1912  to 02/05/1913 (Water),  02/05/1924  to 01/24/1925 (Wood),  01/24/1936  to 02/10/1937 (Fire),  02/10/1948  to  01/28/1949 (Earth),  01/28/1960 to 02/14/1961 (Metal), 02/15/1972 to 02/02/1973 (Water),  02/02/1984 to 02/19/1985 (Wood),  02/19/1996  to  02/06/1997 (Fire),  02/07/2008  to  01/25/2009 (Earth), 01/25/2020 – 02/11/2021 (Metal).


Those born in the year of the Rat are usually charming, quick-witted and intelligent – even charismatic.  It is a very social sign; Rat people tend to be very talkative and are almost never found sitting quietly on their own.  Be aware, however, that this affable front conceals a secretive, crafty and opportunistic personality.

Rat people are ambitious yet honest, prone to spend freely, seldom make lasting friendships.  They can be quite greedy and calculative.  Being perfectionists they can be difficult to work with, but their considerable talent may be enough to make up for it.  The intrinsic element of this sign is Water, and its direction is north.  The Rat is the first sign of the Chinese Zodiac.

Lucky Directions:  (Facing) West, South, East

Most Compatible Signs: Dragon, Monkey, Ox

Least Compatible Signs:  Sheep, Horse, Rabbit, Rooster

Lucky Years:  Ox, Dragon, Monkey Years

Unlucky Year:  Horse Year (Opposite)

Colors:  Red, Black, Purple.

2.  Ox Years  (Earth, Yin, North-Northeast)  Key Word:  Patient

02/19/1901  to  02/07/1902 (Metal),  02/06/1913  to  01/25/1914 (Water),  01/25/1925  to  02/12/1926 (Wood),  02/11/1937  to  01/30/1938 (Fire),  01/29/1949  to  02/16/1950 (Earth),  02/15/1961  to  02/04/1962 (Metal),  02/03/1973   to  01/22/1974 (Water), 02/20/1985  to  02/08/1986 (Wood),  02/07/1997  to  01/27/1998 (Fire),  01/26/2009  to  02/13/2010 (Earth), 02/12/2021 – 01/31/2022 Metal).


Quiet and conservative, reliable and dependable; these are qualities that exemplify the Ox personality.  People born in Ox years are very sure of themselves and are clear about their ambitions and what they want in life.  They are bright, patient, and inspiring to others, and can be happy by themselves. They often rise to positions of authority easily, and make great leaders.  Persistent and hard-working, they can stick to a task longer than most people.

Usually widely read and possessed of a brilliant intellect, they respect and respond to facts and genuine knowledge.  Although Ox people are not particulary warm or sentimental, they are very caring and protective of their loved ones.  They make outstanding parents.  The intrinsic element of this sign is earth, and its direction is north-northeast.  The Ox is the second sign of the Chinese Zodiac.

Lucky Directions:  (Facing) South, East, North

Most Compatible Signs:   Snake, Rooster, Ox

Least Compatible Signs:  Sheep, Dragon, Horse, Dog

Lucky Years:  Snake, Rooster Years

Unlucky Year:  Sheep Year (Opposite)

Colors:  Brown, Earth Shade, Blue.

3.  Tiger Years (Wood, Yang, East-Northeast)  Key Word:  Aggressive

02/08/1902  to  01/28/1903 (Water),  01/26/1914  to  02/13/1915 (Wood),  02/13/1926  to  02/01/1927 (Fire),  01/31/1938  to  02/18/1939  (Earth),  02/17/1950  to  02/05/1951 (Metal),  02/05/1962  to  01/24/1963 (Water),  01/23/1974  to  02/10/1975 (Wood),  02/09/1986  to  01/28/1987 (Fire),  01/28/1998  to  02/15/1999 (Earth),  02/14/2010  to  02/02/2011 (Metal), 02/01/2022 – 01/21/2023 (Water).


The Tiger is one of the most dynamic signs of the Chinese Zodiac.  People born in Tiger years are highly competitive, adventurous, and very confident in their  own abilities – they are the sorts who can, and will, get things done.  Tiger people are aggressive, courageous, candid and sensitive. Their towering passion, ambition and all-or-nothing attitude  can take them all the way to the top in  whatever they endeavour to do.  They crave excitement and get bored easily.

Tigers fiercely stand up for what they believe in and for this, coupled with their courage and dedication, they are respected by both friend and foe.  The intrinsic element of this sign is wood, and its direction is east-northeast.  The Tiger is the third sign of the Chinese Zodiac.

Lucky Directions:  (Facing) West, North, East

Most Compatible Signs:  Horse, Dog

Least Compatible Signs:  Monkey, Snake, Boar

Lucky Years:  Horse, Dog Years

Unlucky Year: Monkey (Opposite)

Colors:  Yellow, Gold, Orange.

4.  Rabbit Years (Wood, Yin, East)  Key Word:  Talented

01/29/1903  to  02/15/1904 (Water),  02/14/1915  to  02/02/1916 (Wood),  02/02/1927  to  01/22/1928 (Fire),  02/19/1939  to  02/07/1940 (Earth),  02/06/1951  to  01/26/1952 (Metal),  01/25/1963  to  02/12/1964 (Water),  02/11/1975  to  01/30/1976 (Wood),  01/29/1987  to  02/16/1988 (Fire),  02/16/1999  to  02/04/2000 (Earth),  02/03/2011  to  01/22/2012 (Metal), 01/22/2023 – 02/09/2024 (water).


Tactful, discreet and accommodating, Rabbit people are quite possibly the best dipolmats of the Chinese Zodiac.  Always well groomed and well mannered, they  can be depended upon to keep up appearances.  Rabbits are happiest among friends and safely within their established social circles.  Luckiest of all signs, Rabbit people are also talented and articulate.

Affectionate, yet shy, they seek peace throughout their lives.  Seldom confrontational, they try their best not to offend anyone.  They are excellent judges of character.  These refined folk love good conversation, reading, and intellectual discussions.  The intrinsic element of this sign is wood, and its direction is east.  The Rabbit is the fourth sign of the Chinese Zodiac.

Lucky Directions:  (Facing) South, North, West

Most Compatible Signs:  Sheep, Boar, Dog

Least Compatible Signs: Rooster, Rat, Horse, Dragon

Lucky Years:  Dog, Sheep, Boar Years

Unlucky Year:  Rooster Year (Opposite)

Colors:  Cream, Green, Pink.

5.  Dragon Years (Earth, Yang, East-Southeast)  Key Word:  Passionate

02/19/1904  to  02/03/1905 (Wood),  02/03/1916  to  01/22/1917 (Fire),  01/23/1928  to  02/09/1929 (Earth),  02/08/1940  to  01/26/1941 (Metal),  01/27/1952  to  02/13/1953 (Water),   02/13/1964  to  02/01/1965 (Wood),  01/31/1976  to  02/17/1977 (Fire),  02/17/1988  to  02/05/1989 (Earth),  02/05/2000  to  01/23/2001 (Metal),  01/23/2012  to  02/09/2013 (Water), 02/10/2024 – 01/28/2025 (Wood).


This Dragon is probably the most flamboyant and vibrant of all the Chinese astrological signs.  Highly confident and bold, Dragon people are born leaders, and usually do well in careers that give them a position of leadership.  They have a keen sense of imagination, and often dream up wild schemes and ideas, most of which are not feasible. Dragon people are eccentric and their lives are complex.  They have a very passionate nature and abundant health.

Fortunately for them however, Dragons seem to be endowed with good fortune, which saves them from making major mistakes and helps them to excel when they apply themselves correctly.  On the downside, they often have huge egos and can be tactless, hot-headed, arrogant and quick-tempered.  The intrinsic element of this sign is earth, and its direction is east-southeast.  The Dragon is the fifth sign of the Chinese Zodiac.

Lucky Directions:  (Facing) East, South, West

Most Compatible Signs:  Rat, Monkey, Rooster

Least Compatible Signs:  Dog, Ox, Sheep, Dragon

Lucky Years:  Rooster, Rat, Monkey Years

Unlucky Year:  Dog Year (Opposite)

Colors:  Red, Orange.

6. Snake Years (Fire, Yin, South-Southeast)  Key Word:  Wise

02/04/1905  to  01/24/1906 (Wood),  01/23/1917  to  02/10/1918 (Fire),  02/10/1929  to  01/29/1930 (Earth),  01/27/1941  to  02/14/1942 (Metal),  02/14/1953  to  02/02/1954 (Water),  02/21/1965  to  01/20/1966 (Wood),  02/18/1977  to  02/06/1978 (Fire),  02/06/1989  to  01/26/1990 (Earth),  01/24/2001  to  02/11/2002 (Metal),  02/10/2013  to  01/30/2014 (Water), 01/29/2025 – 02/16/2026 (Wood).


Snake people are very shrewd  and often achieve success through their wits.  They are wise and intense with a tendency towards physical beauty. Snake people are  discreet, restrained and refined.  They never  come across as pushy, and instead get their  way through subtle manipulation.  Cautious and intelligent, they possess analytical minds, but often also have a well-developed gut instinct.

There’s an air of elegance and magnetism about Snakes that make them very attractive to the opposite sex.  They are quite aware of their appeal, and thus can be rather vain and high tempered.  Snakes enjoy flirting, but when it comes to their partners they are often possessive.  The intrinsic element of this sign is  fire, and its direction is south-southeast.  The Snake is the sixth sign of the Chinese Zodiac.

Lucky Directions:  (Facing) North, South

Most Compatible Signs:  Ox, Rooster

Least Compatible Signs:  Boar, Tiger, Monkey

Lucky Years:  Ox, Rooster Years

Unlucky Year:  Boar Year (Opposite)

Colors:  Blue, Green, Bright Pink.

7.  Horse Years (Fire, Yang, South)   Key Word:  Popular

01/25/1906  to  02/12/1907 (Fire),  02/11/1918  to  01/31/1919 (Earth),  01/30/1930  to  02/16/1931 (Metal),  02/15/1942  to  02/04/1943 (Water),  02/03/1954  to  01/23/1955 (Wood),  01/21/1966  to  02/08/1967 (Fire),  02/07/1978  to  01/27/1979 (Earth),  01/27/1990  to  02/14/1991 (Metal),  02/12/2002  to  01/31/2003 (Water),  01/31/2014  to  02/18/2015 (Wood), 02/17/2026 – 02/05/2027 (Fire).


People who are born in the Horse years are independent, outspoken and sociable.  They never seem to run out of conversation.  They love the great outdoors, and often enjoy athletic pursuits.  There is a constant air of restlessness and impatience about them.  Horse people are usually quite honest and principled.  They are popular and attractive to the opposite sex.

Horse people are often ostentatious and impatient.  They need people around. They reject dishonest behaviour and try to be straightforward in their dealings.  However, they maintain a healthy ego too, and this can bring out their selfish side.  The intrinsic element of this sign is fire, and its direction is south.  The Horse is the seventh sign of the Chinese Zodiac.

Lucky Directions:  (Facing) West, East, North

Most Compatible Signs:  Tiger, Dog, Sheep

Least Compatible Signs:  Rat, Rooster, Rabbit, Horse

Lucky Years: Sheep, Tiger, Dog Years

Unlucky Year:  Rat Year (Opposite)

Colors:  Gold, Yellow.



The following colorful image is a popular Chinese character “FU” (pronounced similar to food in English), which means blessing, good fortune and happiness.  This character is made up of 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac.  On the left part of this character, from up to down, you will find the Rat, Tiger, Ox, Sheep, Pig, Rabbit and Snake.  On the right part, you will find the Dragon, Horse, Rooster, Monkey and Dog.

The following image is the Chinese character of “FU“.

Chinese Astrology Calendar

(Spring Liao, 11/11/2008)