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2009, the Year of the Ox

 

According to Chinese astrology. The ox is the second animal in the zodiac and often associated with honesty, faithfulness, strength and gentleness. But it also sometimes represents stupidity and stubbornness. The animal was an indispensable asset for Korean agriculture, as it was used to plow the soil here day after day. As such, ox people are believed to labor through their daily responsibilities either at work or at home without complaint.

The ox is often described as dependable, patient, hardworking, strong and gentle. These positive attributes became symbolism reflected in religion, philosophy, literature and many other aspects of daily life. The folktale of an ox saving its owner from a tiger is regarded as an example of the Confucian ideal of loyalty. The image of a shepherd boy riding its back is straight out of a Taoist handbook. In Buddhism, the ox symbolizes the essential goodness of human nature. The shape of a lying ox or the shape of its stomach was a feng shui technique to determine ideal housing sites, according to the museum.

The basic character of oxen is success through hard work and sustained effort, finding no benefit in concocting get-rich-quick schemes. Honesty and integrity are often the themes in proverbs about oxen, and such symbolism is evident in everyday items.


Five-Ox Painting, an important work belonging to the Palace Museum, is another highlight. Measuring 139.8 cm in length and 20.8 cm in height, the precious horizontal scroll was created by Han Huang, a court official of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). With different images and postures, the five oxen are all vividly presented. One ox is painted head on, a special visual angle demonstrating the painter"s skill to the full. Simple brushworks portray the frame of the oxen and exquisite lines and dots describe the details of their faces. It was purchased in Hong Kong"s auction market and restored by experts of the Palace Museum for several years.

 

 
   
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