Good Fortune in the Year of the Dog
Many peoples around the world use animals to mark the years, this tradition having a long history and reaching deep into their lives and respective cultures. The Chinese today are familiar with the order of the twelve animals in their zodiac, which developed around the time of the Han dynasty: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. Even nowadays, people in Taiwan still use the Chinese zodiac to indicate the year in which they were born. These animals have also been associated with different auspicious meanings over the years. The goat, for example, is related to an expression for the auspicious beginning of the New Year. The word for monkey in Chinese is a homonym for a rank of nobility, expressing a wish for promotion in office. And the word for rooster is also a homonym for auspiciousness and a harbinger of good luck, while the pig symbolizes a life of plenty. As for the dog, the eleventh animal in the Chinese zodiac, it was one of the earliest to be domesticated. Over the course of history, the dog consistently has been “man’s best friend” and a loyal partner. The dog not only has a special affinity for people with its faith and protection, but is ranked by Treatise on Auspicious Omen throughout the ages as an important animal of good fortune. In the traditional cycle of the Chinese calendar, this is the “wuxu” year, which corresponds to the dog in the Chinese zodiac. The section here features select artifacts on the subject of canines to celebrate the Year of the Dog. It includes eight of Giuseppe Castiglione’s famous set of monumental hanging scrolls, “Ten Fine Hounds” (including “Frosty-Sparrow Hawk,” “Golden-wing Hound,” and others in rotation), which will hopefully get viewers in the mood for a most auspicious Year of the Dog.