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Carved stag antler netsuke in the shape of a monkey climbing a bamboo shoot, signed Masayuki, Japan, about 1850-1900. Museum no. 445-1904

Carved stag antler netsuke in the shape of a monkey climbing a bamboo shoot, signed Masayuki, Japan, about 1850-1900. Museum no. 445-1904

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.

Monkey characteristics

People born in the Year of the Monkey are intelligent, witty and strong-willed. They are remarkably inventive, creative and able to solve most problems. Their curiosity means they have a great thirst for knowledge. They are usually the centre of attention at parties, their creative mind makes them excellent story-tellers and their smile will light up the room. At times Monkey people are unreasonable, self-centred and opportunitistic. They love challenges and their popularity means they often become leader, but they can be cunning and manipulative to win the race.

Monkey Years: 1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028

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

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