Chinese Zodiac trail

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Explore the symbolism of animals in Eastern and Western traditions

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From The National Gallery Podcast: Episode Four, February 2007

Download the trail

The trail can be downloaded as a PDF document below. Print it out and bring it with you when you visit the Gallery.

The text is in:

  • English
  • Mandarin

PDF fileChinese Zodiac trail [PDF 2.73mb – opens in a new window]

About the trail

This trail looks at 12 pictures from the collection in order to explore the symbolism of animals across different traditions. Each picture features an animal from the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. 

Who is the trail for?

It is aimed at adults, though families with children can enjoy discovering the paintings together.

Chinese Zodiac

In Chinese astrology, each year is represented by an animal. People born in a given year are said to have personality traits associated with that year’s animal sign.

In European painting, these animals have similar or contrasting meanings, inherited through myth, folklore and religious teaching – how do they compare? 

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