2020: Year of the Rat
Saturday, January 25, 2020 marks the beginning of the Year of the Rat on the Chinese Lunar Calendar, and those awaiting the Year of the Rat may be hoping for good business prospects, personal fortune, and wealth to follow with the arrival of the New Year.
Rats - particularly the white rat - are an important animal element of Chinese mythology. The rat is shrewd and clever - in the race to determine which animals should be part of the Chinese zodiac, the rat made up for its lack of size and speed and inability to swim well (at least, according to the story) by tagging along on the back of another competing animal, the ox. Consequently, the rat came in first place in the race.
Rats are also associated with wealth because of their tendency to hoard stolen grain, for which reason they are often depicted as or with incarnations of the God of Wealth or Treasure in Chinese art.
A bronze example of this phenomenon from the Ming Dynasty shows the God of Treasure in human form, with a rat sitting on the figure's knee, being gently patted by the god's left hand. A bag or basket of treasure rests in front of the seated figure, with the rat looking toward it and holding one piece of the treasure in its mouth.
Another, even more splendid example from one of our early auctions is a gilded bronze statue of a big-bellied God of Treasure seated on a dragon, another symbol for wealth and fortune in Chinese mythology, with a white rat clutching a gold orb in its mouth below. While the God and dragon are dynamic, almost dancing and joyous, the rat seems more furtive and careful of its hold on the gold.
One thing to be gleaned from the rat's success in maintaining its wealth is that its fortune comes from a mixture of cleverness and mundane, careful planning. Unlike the dragon with its mystical powers, the rat is a creature reliant on its own wits and hard work.
For this Year of the Rat, then, we wish you the rat's success and cleverness so that your hard work in business and in your personal affairs will come to fruition. Keep an eye on our upcoming auctions for more bronze statues of the God of Treasure!