Chinese zodiac: the Year of the Horse

Netsuke, Japan, 18th century. Museum no. 418-1904

Netsuke, Japan, 18th century. Museum no. 418-1904

The Chinese use the lunar calendar for festive occasions including the New Year which falls somewhere between late January and early February. The cycle of twelve animal signs derives from Chinese folklore as a method for naming the years. The animals follow one another in an established order and are repeated every twelve years - rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Each animal has particular characteristics and people born in a certain year are believed to take on these characteristics.

Horse characteristics

People born in the Year of the Horse are popular, energetic and confident. They are independent, eager to try new things and are bored by routine, which is why they want to travel and enjoy different cultures. They enjoy entertainment and parties and are naturally good public speakers, although they can talk too much. They hate being controlled, rarely listen to advice and are prone to instant mood-swings and a hot temper, but are also very loveable and easy to get on with. Horse people have lots of sex appeal and always want to look their best.

Horse Years: 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026

The following objects show examples of horses from different parts of the V&A's collections. The horse has different meanings to different cultures and religions throughout the world.

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