The 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac: Dragon
By Xing Fangyu

Among the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, 11 exist in reality while the dragon is the only species that appears mostly in legends and myths. Why is the dragon the fifth in the 12-year cycle of animals? Does it mean the dragon did exist in ancient times?

1、What does the legendary creature looks like?

The image of dragon is quite different from the one in the West. Its appearance has kept changing with time and it is described by the "nine resemblances": antlers of a deer, head of a horse, rabbit's eyes, neck of a snake, a tortoise's viscera, hawk's claws, the palms of a tiger, and a cow's ears. 

It's hard to find an animal in real life that looks exactly the same as the dragon. Some believe it could be a crocodile or a snake, but there isn't a final judgment on it. 

2、Why is the dragon the fifth of the 12 animals?

In Chinese culture, the dragon is strongly connected with the water and the weather. One of the explanations about the 12 animals' order is by animals' life characters in different periods. For example, the Rat is the first one because from 11 pm to 1 am it's the most active going around seeking food. Following the Rat, it's the Ox, because between 1 am and 3 am, it ruminates slowly and leisurely. As to dragon, it is likely to rain from 7 am and 9 am, and the ancient Chinese believed it's because the dragon hovers in the sky.

The facts behind the dragon and its relationship with the Chinese Zodiac are still to be confirmed. But culturally speaking, the dragon is strongly associated with China and Chinese people.

About The 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese zodiac is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year being related to an animal sign. These signs in order are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

But how much do you know about these animals and their symbolic meanings in the Chinese Zodiac? Follow the series to find out.

For more:

The 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac: Ox

The 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac: Tiger

The 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac: Rabbit

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