Legend of the Year of the Horse

The Jade Emperor was quite appreciative of the horse’s intelligence, and designated it the “imperial horse,” authorizing it to await orders in front of his palace.  (Naruemon Bulwan/123RF)
The Jade Emperor was quite appreciative of the horse’s intelligence, and designated it the “imperial horse,” authorizing it to await orders in front of his palace. (Naruemon Bulwan/123RF)

For Westerners, Jan. 1 is the beginning of the New Year; however, according to Asian traditions, the first day of the Lunar Chinese, New Year in 2014 was Jan. 31. This being the Year of the Horse, here is the legend of how the horse was selected to be one of the animals represented in the Chinese zodiac.

Most people consider horses to be loyal, industriousness, earnest, and hardworking without any objection. Horses are also very intelligent animals that seem to have emotions. Therefore, there are a lot of touching stories about horses in ancient Chinese history. In addition to being docile, horses are also soldierly. On countless battlefields, many horses have assisted in many exemplary achievements for kings and emperors throughout the ages.

It is said that in ancient times, horses had wings. Horses could not only run fast over the ground, but also fly in the sky. The Jade Emperor was quite appreciative of the horse’s intelligence, and designated it the “imperial horse,” authorizing it to await orders in front of his palace.

The imperial horse became spoiled by the Jade Emperor, and as a result became more and more domineering and misbehaved. One day, the imperial horse ran out of the Jade Emperor’s palace and barged into another deity’s palace where it fought with the guards of that palace. It managed to kill one of the guards in the process. This event was reported to the Jade Emperor, who became extremely angry with it. He cut the horse’s wings off and pressed it into the bottom of a mountain for 300 years.

Two hundred years later, as an early ancestor of humans was walking past the mountain, a fairy came down from the Jade Emperor’s palace and told the horse to ask the human for help. When the person walked by, the horse hurriedly shouted to him, and promised to help him in thanks for getting him out. Finally, the human was able to break the spell that was keeping the horse trapped by cutting down a peach tree on the top of the mountain.

In order to repay the human for his help, the imperial horse came to the human world and served him. It plowed fields, transferred goods, and carried soldiers on battlefields. It became humankind’s good friend. When the Jade Emperor was choosing which 12 animals to be part of the Chinese zodiac, the horse was selected due to mankind’s love of the horse and its merits.

year of the horse

The Jade Emperor was quite appreciative of the horse’s intelligence, and designated it the “imperial horse,” authorizing it to await orders in front of his palace. (Naruemon Bulwan/123RF)

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