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Origin of the 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac 十二生肖的由来

作者: 录入:hcl 来源:对外汉语学习网 2017-03-22 14:31:17 

中国人生肖中的十二种动物大致可分为三类:
The 12 Chinese zodiac animals can be divided into three categories.
一类是已被驯化的“六畜”,即牛、羊、马、猪、狗、鸡,它们是人类为了经济或其它目的而驯养的,占十二种动物的一半。“六畜”在中国的农业文化中是一个重要的概念,有着悠久的历史,在中国人的传统观念中“六畜兴旺”代表着家族人丁兴旺、吉祥美好。春节时人们一般都会提“六畜兴旺”,因此这六畜成为生肖是有其必然性的。
The first category includes the six kinds of tamed animals such as the ox, goat, horse, pig, dog and rooster, accounting for half of the zodiac animals. They are raised by people for economic or domestic purposes. These animals form an important concept in China’s agricultural culture. In the traditional philosophy of the Chinese people, the prosperity of these animals means the prosperity of their families. On Spring Festival, people usually mention “prosperity of the six domesticated animals.” Thus, it is natural for the animals to be among the 12 zodiac animals.
第二类是野生动物中为人们所熟知的,与人的日常、社会生活有着密切关系的动物,它们是虎、兔、猴、鼠、蛇,其中有为人们所敬畏的介入人类生活的,如虎、蛇;也有为人们所厌恶、忌讳,却依赖人类生存的鼠类;更有人们所喜爱的,如兔、猴。
The second category are wild animals that are familiar to people and closely related to people’s daily and social life. They are the tiger, rabbit, monkey, mouse and snake. Some of them are awed by people and interfere with people’s lives, such as the tiger and snake; some are hated by the people but they must depend on human race for a living, like the mouse; there are also the animals people like, such as the rabbit and monkey.
第三类是中国人传统的象征性的吉祥物——龙,龙是中华民族的象征,是集许多动物的特性于一体的“人造物”,是人们想象中的“灵物”。龙代表富贵吉祥,是最具象征色彩的吉祥动物,因此生肖中更少不了龙的位置。

Dragon, the traditional symbol and mascot of the Chinese people, falls in the third category: mythological creatures. The symbol of the Chinese nation is actually made up and does not exist in nature. It is an animal of luck that exists only in people’s imaginations. Dragon represents wealth and auspiciousness with symbolic status. Thus, it is natural for the dragon to be included among the 12 zodiac animals. 

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