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It is believed that Chinese Astrology as we know it today originated in Zhan Guo period i.e. around 5th century B.C. Although, the system of Chinese zodiac were officially identified during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - 9 A.D.).
The most famous legend about the origin of the Chinese zodiac signs is the Legend of "The Great Race".
The legend of "The Great Race" involves around the Jade Emperor. Jade Emperor is one of the most important deity and is considered the ruler of Heaven. The legend has it that the Jade Emperor called upon all the animals of the Earth on his birthday to race against each other. To become the part of the zodiac, the animals had to cross a huge river. The rank of the animals in the race would be their position in the zodiac.
The story starts with the cat and the rat being friends. One day The Rat heard about the race that was being organized by the Jade Emperor. He told The Cat about the race and the Cat asked the Rat to wake her up. Well, due to the excitement of participating in the race, The Rat forgot to wake the cat up. The forgetfulness of the rat is also the reason behind the constant fight and hatred between the rat and the cat.
Every animal except the cat participated in the Race. When the time came to cross the river, the rat asked the Ox whether he would help him cross the river. Ox said Yes and the rat jumped on the back of the ox. When the Ox reached the other side of the river, the rat grasping the moment jumped on the land and ran to touch the feet of the Jade Emperor. Hence, becoming the first in the zodiac. Ox came second so he was placed after the rat. The next animal to arrive was the Tiger, than the rabbit came who used stones and a log to get across. The fifth animal to finish the race was the Dragon. The dragon stopped to help pull the rabbit?s log across the river. After the Dragon, Horse would have been the sixth zodiac but was defeated by the snake that hid in the horse's hooves and reached before him. The tenth position was held by the Sheep, then Monkey and the rooster. 11th was the dog and the pig was the last.
The elements in the Chinese Astrology are independent from each other but they also highly influence each other. Chinese elements create and destroy each other. When the creation, it speaks of development and when the destruction happens, it stops the development. Hence, all the elements are complimentary to each other.
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