Xu(戌), Year of the Dog
Dog ranks the I Ith of the twelve Chinese zodiac signs. associated with the Earthly Branch symbol Xu. Therefore, the period of the day from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. is also called the Dog Hours. The dog is man’s loyal friend and can help people hunt, protect droves and houses and deliver messages for an urgent need. As one of the earliest naturalized animals, the dog has long been the bosom partner of humans since the Fishing and Hunting Stage. The dog is extremely clever and assists human beings to drive wild beasts and herd sheep flock, beneficial to the large-scaled husbandry. In addition, the outstanding loyalty of dog makes him the man’s friend that can understand human nature and share weal and woe with people. Based on those above, there are many folk sayings prevailing in China to praise the dog’s positive characters. For instance, the slang of “no ugly mom in a son’s eyes and no poor master in a dog’s mind” eulogizes that dog will never leave his master no matter how impoverished the master is, which is just like the child will never dislike his mother no matter how terrible-looking she is. In Chinese peoples mind, Dog is the symbol of loyalty, faithfulness, courage, valor, diligence, goodwill, beauty, and industry, and it is thus clear that dog is favored by humans.
Although human and dog are close friends and dog obtains numerous merits, the dog is still referred to several bad meanings In traditional Chinese culture. People use the idiom of “threatening people on the master’s power like a dog” to describe snobs who bully others depending on a powerful person: “worse than pigs or dogs” to sneer at a lewd person who holds no moral principles, even worse than animals: “unable to recognize a kind-hearted man just like a dog biting the hand that feeds one” to satirize people who requite kindness with enmity . All these should be attributed to the close relationship between human being and dog. In order to show the fidelity, it is hard for a dog to show goodwill to other people except for his master and occasionally, the dog would even bite humans. which leaves an atrocious illusion to people. Additionally, dog and wolf share the similar appearance and tightly related with each other through genetic connection, which leads to people transferring their anger to the dog that should not be blamed since the wolf is an animal abominated and feared by humankind.
As an important branch of Chinese zodiac culture, dog worship involves various aspects of human life and at the same time, enriches and develops the content of traditional Chinese folk culture. In terms of the manners and customs of many Chinese minorities, the dog has always been treated as a worship object. In the minorities of Yao, Miao and Li, people esteem Panhu as their ancestor, the figure of a dog in Chinese mythology and the behaviors of hitting, reviling, eating dog as well as impolite address to dog are forbidden. In the region of the Miao minority, the fairy tale of “dog bringing grain seeds” is popular. In this story, during the course of the migration conducted by the ancestors of the Miao people, all personal belongings were lost in the escape. Thanks to the grain seeds carried on the dog tails. those people finally survived in the new resettlement area. On every June 16th of Chinese lunar calendar, people of Yao ethnic group will hold a grand ceremony for the Dog God Panhu. known as Pan Wang Festival. At present, it is obvious to view that Yao people’s clothes illustrate the dog totem worship of this ethnic group as their clothes are designed with the front longer than the back. What is more, woman’s waistband is longer than the normal one with a piece of the band hanging in the rear, like the dog’s tail. For the Han ethnic group, the dog was also one of the common animals with which ancient Chinese people offered sacrifices and as early as the Zhou Dynasty (1046 B.C. – 256 B.C.), the imperial court established a position especially for mastering this sacrificial activity.