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The Ox

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The ox has its place next to the rat and before the tiger. This place is a nice position, on the one hand, because it precedes some bigger and more powerful animals. However, it’s humiliating to stand behind the tiny rat on the other. For thousands of years, people tried to uncover the mystery but in vain.

Of the 12 animals, the ox is the most honest, the most generous, the most devoted, and the most hardworking. It never has any ill intentions, nor any tricks. It even has never thought of other animals to be “cunning” or “evil”. What it knows is “to work harder and harder”. What a noble being in the world! Perhaps, this is the reason why the ox won the second seat in the Chinese Zodiac.

Of course, the legend of the Great Race gives the account to the position of the ox in the Chinese Zodiac. During the race, other animals were very proud of their own abilities and believed that they would be the first. As a result, the cat forgot the time and its name was expunged; the pig overslept and became the last, so on and so forth. However, the ox, being so modest, kept running without a stop. It was almost the first, when the rat, cunning but smart, jumped off its back and touched the finishing line and got the first place. All the animals thought this was unfair for the ox, but rules are rules and could not be changed. The tiger and the dragon felt ashamed in front of the ox, which stood there with its head low to show its modesty. They could have won the first place if they exerted their own ability well! But again, rules are rules!

For all the good character traits, the ox has always been a good friend and a useful helper to us human beings. It is one of the earliest tamed animals to accompany us in our work and life, and this ox-human relationship can be traced far back in history. In the 1950s in China, the excavation of primitive villages of the Neolithic Age unearthed a lot of the bones of the ox. In the Xia and Shang Dynasties about over 4000 years ago, the shoulder blades of the ox are also the carriers of the earliest Chinese characters. From many mausoleums of emperors of the Han Dynasty, many terra-cotta figures and stone figures of the ox were excavated. Even now, in some places the ox is so honored that the bone is an indispensible part of the foundation of a house.

The ox is such a favorable livestock that the Chinese people consider it as our model to follow in our work where “the spirit of the ox” is highly appreciated. The name of this animal even has been developed into an adjective to show appreciation of one’s success. People will utter “very ox” (the literal translation for 很牛 “hěn niú") with their thumbs to those who achieve great success because of their hard work. Some people even think that the ox should replace the rat and take the first position in the Chinese Zodiac, which, of course, is a set cycle and cannot be changed.

Those born under the sign of the ox are thought to have unyielding and stubborn personalities. They are gifted leaders who will succeed when given a chance with their typical personalities of being upright, hardworking, inspiring, and easy-going. Their favorable jobs are: surgeons, generals, or hairdressers. They can also be wonderful parents.

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