The Animal Cycles

Here, we will consider only the series of 12 animals of the so-called "rat zodiac" (also called the "Oriental zodiac"), tied to the 12-year Jupiter cycle, the related cycles of 27/28 animals of the lunar mansions and the cycle of 36 animals. The earliest attested 28-animal list is Greco-Egyptian of about the 4th century a.d. (Weinstock 1950), which seems from very fragmentary evidence to have Greek prototypes several centuries earlier. The southeast Asian lists form a subgroup together, fairly closely related to the Hindu sequences. In China, the entire list of 12 animals is incorporated in sequence in the list of 28 animals and the latter, in turn, in the 36 animal sequence (with some minor variations). Variations of the 12-animal sequence are found at the present time from Japan to Turkey14 to name the years.

Investigations by Joe D. Stewart and David Humiston Kelley suggest that one of these animal lists was incorporated in the construction of the Mesoamerican calendar. Independent work by David Byron Kelley reached a parallel conclusion with some differences. There was also a great deal of earlier work reaching back as far as Alexander von Humboldt. For extensive discussion, see Stewart (1974). Only in Burma and Cambodia are the animal lists directly identified as the names of asterisms; so these remarks seem adequate for the present study.

14 And now, indeed, in groups of Asian origin throughout the world.

0 0

Post a comment