Robert L. Peters

7 February 2008

Happy Chinese New Year!


Best wishes for the year of the earth rat… may it bring more charisma, wealth, and order into your life—and less death, war, and pestilence. In ancient times, the rat was welcomed as a protector and bringer of material prosperity—it is the first of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. (In Chinese the word 鼡 may refer to either rat or mouse).

Image: detail from Gustave Doré’s illustration ‘The Council held by the Rats.’ As the story (ascribed to Aesop) goes… a certain cat spread so much terror through the kingdom of the rats that they held a council to decide what should be done. One wise old rat suggested that a bell should be fastened around the cat’s neck to give warning of his approach, and all approved of this idea. But who was to do it? Nobody volunteered and the whole thing ended in talk. So it is often with human affairs: plenty of suggestions but no action…. Download the whole Doré illustration here (4 MB JPG).

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