The monkey is the ninth animal in the Chinese Zodiac after the sheep and before the rooster. It was chosen to be one of the 12 animals for its smartness and dexterousness. One explanation of the rank lies heavily on the order of the Earthly Branches. According to this system, "Shen" is the ninth branch within the division of the time of a day. It covers the hours of 3:00p.m - 5:00p.m. This is the time when monkeys are the most active during the day. Another interpretation of the failure of the monkey to get a front position in the Chinese Zodiac is because of its naked red ass that brought humiliation to its personality of perfectionism. He cared too much about it and tried to cover it when other animals teased him during the Great Race. Thus he lagged behind the sheep. What a pity!
In reality, the monkey is often considered as a higher being next to the human beings. It shares with us some similarities and thus is regarded as a close relative to the mankind. In movies or on the stage, it is often dressed and trained to act like a human being. In fact, the monkey is a favorite animal in many places of the world.
In China, people like monkeys but it became a favorite animal only after the classic JOUNEY TO THE WEST was in print in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). This book tells a Chinese legend of the Money King with a Buddhist name Sun Wukong who paid an adventurous pilgrimage to India with his master Monk Xuan Zang known as Tripitaka or Tang San Zang through numerous hardships and dangers. During the difficult journey, he acted as a very loyal, responsible, mischievous, and above all, a very witty guard to his master. It is him who guaranteed the success of the journey. The story is told in a funny manner with rich imaginations and the figure of the monkey captures most of the people’s attention while reading it. This story has been well read in not only China but also many of the Asian countries. Thus the monkey becomes a cultural figure that embodies many good qualities of the people in the Chinese culture.
The monkey is also a mascot in the Chinese culture. The pronunciation in Chinese “hou” shares the same sound of a Chinese character that refers to a high official position in ancient China. Hence, the image of a monkey on the back of a horse is an indication of immediate success while a baby monkey on a mother monkey’s back may mean the continuation of a high official position within a family.
Those who were born in the year of the monkey are often thought to be successful in any field they try.
The best matches are Dragons or Rats while the worst are Tigers.