Most scholars believe the Chinese Zodiac originated well before the Historical Buddha’s birth in India (who was born around 500 BC).
In China, the earliest depictions of the 12 Zodiac animals appear in tomb-ceiling paintings dated to 533 BC . In addition to the Eight Buddhist Deities and 12 Zodiac Animals shown above, there are Zodiac traditions involving other popular Japanese deities.
Eight stars arranged in a ' V' might seem to resemble the head of a bull with its horns.
Stars arranged in a ' C' might suggest first a bow, and then an archer.
It was calibrated to track the waxing and waning phases of the moon, used as a method for counting years, months, days and hours in the Chinese imperial court and civil calendar, and utilized to forecast one’s future and determine one’s character.
The Chinese Zodiac is part of an elaborate and laborious system based on Chinese astrology, cosmology, and divination.
The three methods used today for dating important festivals and events are: The Asian zodiac is not based on constellations, as is the Western (Greek/Roman) zodiac.
The Asian calendar is based on the twelve yearly phases of the moon, known as the twelve-month lunar year (each month lasting between 28 to 31 days).
At many Japanese temples even today, visitors can purchase small protective amulets or carvings of their patron Buddhist-Zodiac deity. On this particular day, people were advised not to work the fields or get married. Each consists of three lines and each is associated with either the yin or yang principle.
They form patterns that do not change, night after night and year after year.
Shepherds and farmers, in prehistoric days, studied these patterns because they served as a calendar.
About Site Author Bibliography Buddhism in Japan Busshi Glossary Carving Techniques Cycle of Suffering Drapery/Robe Guide Mandala Guide Mudra Guide Objects Guide Pilgrimage Guide Shinto Guide Statues by Artist Statues by Era Symbols Guide Terminology A TO Z INDEX 3 Element Stele 3 Monkeys 4 Bosatsu 4 Celestial Emblems 4 Heavenly Kings 5 (Number Five) 5 Elements 5 Tathagata 5 Tier Pagoda 5 Wisdom Kings 6 Jizo 6 Kannon 6 Realms 6 Nara Schools 7 Lucky Gods 7 Nara Temples 8 Legions 8 Zodiac Patrons 10 Kings of Hell 12 Devas 12 Generals 12 Zodiac Animals 13 Butsu (Funerals) 28 Legions 28 Constellations 30 Buddha of Month 30 Kami of Month 33 Kannon About the Author Agyo Aizen Amano Jyaku Amida Nyorai Apsaras Arakan (Rakan) Arhat (Rakan) Ashuku Nyorai Asuka Era Art Tour Asura (Ashura) Baku (Eats Dreams) Bamboo Benzaiten (Benten) Bibliography Big Buddha Birushana Nyorai Bishamon-ten Bodhisattva Bonbori Artwork Bosatsu Group Bosatsu of Mercy Bosatsu on Clouds Buddha (Historical) Buddha Group Buddha Statues Busshi (Sculptors) Calligraphy Celestial Emblems Celestial Maidens Children Patrons Classifying Color Red Confucius Contact Us Daibutsu Daijizaiten Daikokuten Dainichi Nyorai Daruma (Zen) Datsueba (Hell Hag) Deva (Tenbu) Donations Dosojin Dragon Drapery (Robes) Early Buddhism Japan Ebisu Eight Legions En no Gyoja Estores Family Tree Footprints of Buddha Fox (Inari) Fudo (Fudou) Myoo Fugen Bosatsu Fujin (Wind God) Fukurokuju Gakko & Nikko Gardens Gigeiten Godai Nyorai Goddess of Mercy Goddesses Gongen Gravestones Hachi Bushu Hachiman Hands (Mudra) Hell (10 Judges) Hell Hag (Datsueba) Hell Scrolls Henge Hikyu (Lion Beast) Holy Mountains Ho-o (Phoenix) Hotei Idaten Inari (Fox) Ishanaten Ishidoro (Ishidourou) Jikokuten Jizo Bosatsu Jocho Busshi Juni Shi Juni Shinsho Juni Ten Junrei (Pilgrimage) Jurojin Juuzenji Jyaki or Tentoki Kaikei Busshi Kamakura Buddhism Kankiten Kannon Bosatsu Kappa Kariteimo (Kishibojin) Karura Karyoubinga Kendatsuba Kichijouten Kitchen Gods Kishibojin (Kariteimo) Kitsune (Oinari) Kokuzo Bosatsu Koujin (Kojin) Komokuten Korean Buddhism Koushin Lanterns (Stone) Links Magatama Making Statues Mandara (Mandala) Maneki Neko Marishiten (Marici) Miroku Bosatsu Monju Bosatsu Monkeys Moon Lodges Mother Goddess Mudra (Hands) Myoken (Pole Star) Myo-o Nara Era Art Tour Newsletter Sign Up Nijuhachi Bushu Nikko & Gakko Ninpinin Nio Protectors Nyorai Group Objects & Symbols Onigawara Phoenix (Ho-o) Pilgrimage Guide Pottery Protective Stones Raigo Triad Raijin (Thunder God) Rakan (Arhat) Red Clothing Reincarnation Robes (Drapery) Rock Gardens Sanbo Kojin Sanno Gongen Sarutahiko Sculptors (Busshi) Seishi Bosatsu Sendan Kendatsuba Seven Lucky Gods Shachi, Shachihoko Shaka Nyorai Shape Shifters Shichifukujin Shijin (Shishin) Shinra Myoujin Shinto Clergy Shinto Concepts Shinto Kami Shinto Main Menu Shinto Sects Shinto Shrines Shishi (Lion) Shitenno Shoki Shomen Kongo Shotoku Taishi Shrines Shugendo Siddhartha Six States Star Deities Stone Gardens Stone Graves Stone Lanterns Stones (Top Menu) Suijin (Water Kami) Symbols & Objects Tamonten Taishakuten Tanuki Temples Temple Lodging Tenbu Group Tengu Tennin & Tennyo Tentoki or Jyaki Terminology Tiantai Art Tour Tibetan Carpets Tibet Photos Tibetan Tanka Transmigration Ungyo Unkei Busshi Videos on Buddhism Water Basin Weapons Wheel of Life Yakushi Nyorai Yasha (Yaksha) Zao Gongen Zen (Daruma) Zen Art Tour Zodiac Calendar Zochoten Twelve Animals of the Chinese Zodiac System. “10 Stems and 12 Branches.” It refers to the Chinese Zodiac’s 10 stems, 12 animals, andsexagenary (60-year) cycle. The Chinese Zodiac is the preeminent calendar of old-world Asia.
Although replaced in modern times by the Gregorian (solar) calendar, the Zodiac is still used today (unofficially) as a popular method of divination in many Asian and Western nations.