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

Year of the Ox: Happy Chinese Lunar New Year (2021)

In celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year (February 12, 2021) – the Year of the Ox – we present a selection of artworks that feature oxen (and some buffalo and bison) in Washington's State Art Collection. The Chinese word for ox generally means cows, bulls, and even water buffalo.

According to one story, the Jade Emperor held a race to decide the order of the zodiac animals. Rat was first but was too small to cross a big river at the end. The good-natured Ox allowed Rat to jump onto his back. Ox crossed easily being large and powerful, and fast on land and in water. But when they finished, Rat ungratefully jumped off Ox and won first place. Ox was second.

People born in the Year of the Ox are strong, hardworking, reliable, and fair. They are also calm, patient, and can be trusted. They are quiet but opinionated. They believe strongly in themselves but are also stubborn and hate to fail. Although they do not lose their temper easily their anger can be explosive. They are serious, quiet, and not naturally sociable. Ox people have a great deal of common sense.

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 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, and 2021 are known as Oxen.

Happy Year of the Ox!