Korea’s 12 Guardians Animals: Sibijisin

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2017 is also the “Year of Red Rooster” following the Oriental zodiac. But why use a rooster to represent the year?

In Korea, it is believed that there are twelve gods of the earth who take the form of twelve animals,  collectively known as the Sibijisin, which means “Twelve (sibi) Gods of the Earth (jisin)”.

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The animals of the Sibijisin in order are mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, and 2017’s Rooster is the tenth of the Sibijisin.

In ancient times, Koreans referred to these twelve guardians animals to indicate directions and to measure the hours of the day. For example, the hours between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. were called “Myosi” (Time of the Rabbit), and the hours between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. were “Misi” (Time of the Sheep).

The entire day was then divided into twelve different “times”, each represented by one of the twelve animals, which were believed to block bad things during their appointed times.

Here’s how it goes:

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You can find statues of the Sibijisin around many royal tombs and sites in Korea.

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Sibijisin statues at Gyeongbokgung Palace

Moreover, in Korea, each year is marked by a different animal, since there are twelve jisins, the cycle repeats every 12 years. It is traditionally believed that people possess the certain characteristics of the animal whose year they were born in.

Mouse (2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936)

Those born in the year of the mouse are generally said to be frugal, thrifty, and very hardworking.

Ox (2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, 1937)

People born in the year of the ox are honest, charismatic, patient and hardworking. They do not like to fail, either in career or love.

Tiger (2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938)

People born in the year of the tiger are passionate, honest, optimistic, and proactive.

Rabbit (2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939)

People born in the year of the rabbit are sensitive, humorous, and artistic.

 Dragon (2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940)

People born in the year of the dragon are adventurous, emotional and efficient.

Snake (2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941)

Many people born in the year of the snake are dignified and are perfectionists.

Horse (2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942)

People born in the year of the horse are cheerful, open-minded and consistent.

Sheep (2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955, 1943)

People born in the year of the sheep are compassionate and peaceful.

Monkey (2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, 1944)

People born in the year of the monkey are social, cheerful, and positive.

Rooster (2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969, 1957, 1945)

People born in the year of the chicken are intelligent and courageous.

Dog (2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946)

People born in the year of the dog are honest, bright, and friendly to others.

Pig (2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947)

People born in the year of the pig are honest, simple and strong-minded.

*Information and pictures from VisitKorea and the Internet.


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