2014 Year of the Horse

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Beautifully carved mare whinnying with young, the filly licking the mother’s neck, in mammoth ivory, eyes inlaid in amber or horn, signed Kangyoku, late 20th century (it is one of a dozen contemporary netsuke in my collection)

The Chinese calendar -which existed there already since around 2000 BC- was adopted by Japan from around the 6th century AD, together with Buddhism. The Zodiac has an influence on the character of mankind. Each of the 12 ‘animals’ has specific characteristics. The horse symbolizes graciousness, dignity, momentum and firmness. In Chinese culture, people born in the Year of the Horse are regarded as witty, elegant, eloquent speakers and charming. Most of them possess a gift for getting their way through to the heart of other people. People bearing the horse sign strive towards seeking freedom and happiness. Horse people are lively, bright and are known for their physical strength and they can express themselves well when communicating with other people.

During the last century till now, years of the Horse Years were in 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990 and 2002. In 60 year cycles, the 12 zodiac animals are repeated 5 times, representing the 5 elements Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.

Of course it is not that simple; 60 is merely the most common denominator of 10 x 12, the ten representing the 5 elements but in order to make it ten, the Japanese have adopted a big (elder) brother and small (younger) brother of each of the five stated elements. In all eastern languages, big brother and younger brother is one noun each, and not formed by a noun (brother) plus an adjective (younger or bigger [elder]) like in western languages. Actually, in 2014 the year of the Horse starts on January 31, 2014 and lasts till February 18, 2015.

As the 6th animal in the Eastern zodiac, the Horse indicates the hours between 11 am and 1 pm. In our Western Horoscope, the Horse corresponds to the Cancer.

Best wishes to all for a splendid Year of the Horse, 2014!

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