Asian Art and History
The Twelve Animals of the Lunar Calendar
Jason Sun, Ph.D., Brooke Russell Astor Curator of Chinese Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The 12 animals of the lunar calendar, also known as animals of the Chinese zodiac, have been closely associated with human life since ancient times. They have been popular themes in art and folklore and depicted in various art media, with their images permeating every aspect of Chinese culture. This presentation examines the evolution of the 12 animals, their significant roles throughout China’s long history and their influence on neighboring cultures.
This presentation is part of the Asian Art and History series.
Image: Chinese Zodiac carvings on ceiling of Kushida Shrine, c. 1587. Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture, Kyushu Region, Japan. Public Domain.