Year of the Ox

Item #





Qing Late 19th Century


Ink & pigment on paper




overall 85" x 19.5" (216 x 49 cm); image 51" x 11.75" (129 x 30 cm)





There are 12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac. Therefore, everyone that is born will have an animal identification. There are books that tell about the personalities and characteristics of people born in those particular years. It is an intriguing and interesting thing that people discuss and talk about. The following painting refers to an animal year. However the story that is related is not reflecting the character or personality of a person born in that year, but is simply a story in Chinese literature that came to mind with the artist who drew this painting. He was undoubtedly a scholar who loved to draw and used the excuse of creating a series of zodiac related paintings. That artist's name was Wang Su. The paintings were done in the late 19th century, before the end of the Qing Dynasty
This painting refers to the year of the ox. The ox is seen by the Chinese to be a beneficial animal that helps in their lives - in farming and in transport. There is a story of an old xian. The xian are sometimes called immortals because they are men who live in the mountains by themselves, much like hermits. They prefer the natural environment and the natural rhythms of nature. The xian had an ox, and when they were traveling they came to a river. They asked an old fisherman to help them cross the river. Eventually the ox and the xian were able to get into his boat, and halfway across the stream the ox made some awful deposits in the boat. The fisherman was angry at this, and he quickly leaned over without really looking and scraped this mess from his boat. After the ox and the xian had left the boat the fisherman looked down where he felt the mess had been, and realized that the ox had left gold and he had thrown most of it away.



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