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Have an Ox-citing New Year

by Mark Jaffe (01/22/09).

By Mark Jaffe

While the economy may be dominated by talk of bulls and bears, when it comes to the Chinese New Year, which begins Jan. 26, it is the Year of the Ox. The ox is the sign of prosperity through fortitude and hard work, and people born under this sign are truthful and sincere. So this probably isn’t the sign for Bernie Madoff, architect of the $50-billion Ponzi scheme.

Chinese New Year Ox by Lladro

Chinese New Year Ox by Lladro

(Find out more about  this collectible at  the Lladro’s site.)

It was the Year of the Rat in 2008, which might sound a bit more like Madoff’s year, but it turns out that that was a time of hard work and prosperity—a good time to start a business or get married.

The Chinese New Year is based on a calendar that has been in use for centuries, a combination of lunar and solar calculations. The New Year starts with the new moon on the first day of the calendar new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later.

The 15th day of the New Year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade.

Since the lunar cycle is about 29.5 days, the Chinese have to insert an extra month every few years to catch up with the solar calendar. The years also cycle through 12 animal signs—the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep or goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar or pig.

Ancient Chinese zodiac figures

Ancient Chinese zodiac figures

(For further information on these exceptional Tang-era figures, click here.)

There are five types of ox years. The Metal Ox tends to clash with people who do not agree with him and isn’t very affectionate. The Water Ox is more reasonable and methodical. The Wood Ox flexible and socially adroit. The Fire Ox is forceful and proud.

This is the year of the Earth Ox. The Earth Ox is a “less creative” but “enduring” ox, secure, stable and industrious. Just the ox we need these days.

Antique mutton-fat white jade carving

Antique mutton-fat white jade carving

(If you are interesting in learning more about this piece, visit GoAntiques dealer Objets D’Art Uniques.)

Chinese New Year—with a new animal sign and even nuances with the signs—offers a collecting cornucopia.

The Singapore Mint has, of course, Year of the Ox coins. The mint is striking 88 sets of two five-ounce coins—one gold coin, one silver—with the price for a set $10,604 Singapore or $7,143. The mint is offering other collectibles and gifts, as well.

Singapore coin set

Singapore coin set

The Lantern Festival marks the end of the New Year’s celebration, and a wide variety of Chinese lanterns is available at the AFC China Co.

afc-china-lantern

On the Chinese calendar, 2010 will be the Year of the Tiger. Business can be difficult for the rash impulsive Tiger, according to the Chinese zodiac, and he could find that money is scarce or withheld from him. He will only be rewarded if he exercises prudence and patience. He must avoid impulsive acts and be conservative in his outlook. Zounds! Sound like the Year of the Tiger has already been here!

2012 Year of the Dragon vases

2012 Year of the Dragon vases

(To learn more about these Ming vases, go to Ancient Dragon House.)

Visit our Chinese New Year feature page for videos and more stories about Chinese collectibles.

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