Here is an old legend of how the different animals were given their place in the Chinese zodiac.
The Jade Emperor announced that there would be a race held for all the animals to compete for one of the twelve places in the Chinese zodiac.
The rat was supposed to wake up her neighbour the cat, early the next morning and inform her of the race, but the rat either forgot or maliciously with held the information.
Sunrise on the following morning the rat joined the other animals in the race to the palace, slyly the rat climbed on to the ox’s back for the ox was leading the race, only to jump from its head when they reached the palace to become the first animal of the zodiac.
It was followed by the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the goat, the monkey, the rooster, the dog then the pig.
The cat, however arrived far to late and missed out. This is why even to this day the cat hates the rat.
For over 2000 years, an underground army of life sized terracotta warriors secretly guarded the tomb of China’s first Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, until a chance discovery in 1974 unlocked the mystery of a vanished empire. In March of that year a group of peasants digging a well in drought-parched Shaanxi province in north-west china, unearthed fragments of a clay figure. The first evidence of what would be the greatest archaeological discovery of modern times.
The terracotta army is a collection of statues modeled on the army of Qin Shi Huang, which was created during the 3rd century BC. The army was buried with the Emperor to to protect him and give him people to rule over in the afterlife. Every sculpture has its own unique facial features, and expression, clothing, hairstyle and gestures. The total number of statues is still unknown, but is thought to be 8000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, 150 cavalry horses, plus non-military figures the likes of state officials, acrobats, strong men and musicians.
King Wang Mu, dreamt of being an immortal God. He was determined to visit the heavenly paradise and taste the peach of immortality. A brave charioteer by the name of Zaofu took up the challenge to get him there.
During their travels the Emperor’s chariot was pulled by eight horses, Number one, galloped without touching the ground. Number two, runs faster than birds can fly, number three goes fast at night, number four goes as fast as the shadow of the sun, number five is well groomed with a splendid mane, number six runs so fast that you can see a row of ten images of him,number seven rides on a cloud, number eight has wings.
The eight horses of Wang Mu became a popular subject among later poets and artists and a symbol for the journey of any emperor.
Thousand of years after Nuwa created humans. Still there was no music. Until one day the Yellow Emperor Huangdi ordered one of his followers, a fellow named Linglun to develop music so that the people could sing and dance.
Linglun agreed, but was puzzled how to go about his task, so he went on a journey in search of inspiration. He traveled to the Kunlun mountains where he came across a bamboo grove. Here he discovered that by blowing across the end of a cut piece of bamboo it made a melodious sound. After much experiment he found that by making small hole along the cut bamboo it enabled him to vary the sound, as did the use of different lengths of bamboo.
High in the mountain there dwelt the Feng and the Huang, phoenix type birds, with the most beautiful song he had ever heard.
Inspired by this, Linglun made bamboo flutes to duplicate the six notes of the male bird the Feng and the six notes of the female bird, the Huang and all the notes were harmonious.
He returned to the palace to tell the Yellow Emperor of his success. Whereupon the Emperor asked him to prepare a composition.
Linglun and his companions produced a number of bells tuned to match the flutes, and they produced the first concert the world had ever heard. The sound attracted people from far and wide and they lost themselves with great abandon to this beautiful music and as they sang and danced they forgot about the cares and woes of everyday life.
From jewellery pieces sold in shops, to posters hung on walls, you will most likely have seen the Yin and Yang symbol, but do you know of its origins.
One Daoist myth says that before the beginning of the world, there were two forces. Yin was the female element, representing softness, darkness and the earth. Yang was the male element, representing hardness, light and the heavens. Though the two forces were opposites, they were still dependent on each other to maintain the harmony of the universe.
Originally the Yin and Yang were contained in an egg from which the deity Pangu eventually emerged. Pangu lived for 18000 years, growing bigger until he filled the space between the earth and the sky and as he grew he pushed earth and the heavens further and further apart. Then he died and his body formed the five sacred mountains that exist in China. These mountains were venerated as gods themselves. One of the mountains, Tai Shan, has a flight of steps, referred to as the “Stairway to Heaven” Where at the summit sacrifices can be offered.