Let's Look at China through stamps

8. The Chinese calendar

The Chinese dragon is a legendary animal. It is a symbol of power, strength and good luck.

The Chinese 60-year calendar cycle was based on a combination of 10 ‘heavenly stems’ and 12 ‘earthly branches’. Each year was given a name with a stem and a branch. There are also twelve animals linked to the years. 

The Chinese for dragon is 龙 lóng   

The red Chinese characters on the dragon stamp above are

壬 辰 年 rén chén nián

壬 is 9th of the 10 heavenly stems and 

辰 is 5th of the 12 earthly branches 

年 means year

We are going to investigate why the stamp has these characters. 

Using the chart on the next page you have to find the slot where the 9th heavenly stem and the 5th earthly branch characters line up. 

Go to next page for the chart