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Artwork copyright Cappy Thompson. Photo courtesy of the artist, 1990.

Year of the Rat: Happy Chinese Lunar New Year (2020)

In celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year (January 25, 2020) – the Year of the Rat – we are pleased to present a selection of artworks in Washington's State Art Collection that feature rats (or other rodents).

The Rat is the first animal in the Chinese zodiac. According to one story, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which the animals arrived to his party. The Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride. Just as they arrived at the party, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox, becoming first.

Rats are hard-working, thrifty, and positive. They are clever and imaginative quick thinkers. They are independent and successful, but are content with a quiet and peaceful life. They are optimistic and well-liked, but they have poor communication skills and can seem rude sometimes. They have energetic personalities, but tire quickly and have frail health. In Chinese culture, rats are a sign of wealth, but they can also be stingy. They might be collectors, but sometimes they become hoarders.

In Chinese astrology, each year is related to a Chinese zodiac animal according to a 12-year cycle. Those who were born in the years 2020, 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, and 1936 are known as Rats.

Happy Year of the Rat!