The Spring Ox and Cowherd of the Chinese Almanac – 2

What about the Cowherd? (Also known as the Spring God).

The Cowherd can appear as a child, a young or an old man. In the years of the Rat, Pig, Horse and Rooster he is shown as a child. In the years of the Ox, Dragon, Goat and Dog as a young man and in the years of the Tiger, Snake, Monkey and Pig as an old man.

Spring Ox and Cowherd
Spring Ox and Cowherd

The colours of the Cowherd’s costume and belt depend on the Earthy Branch of the first day of Li Chun (Start of Spring). On a Rat or Pig day (Zi or Hai) it is a yellow costume with a green belt On an Ox, Dragon, Goat or Dog day (Chou, Chen, Wei and Xu) it is a green costume with a white belt. On a Tiger or Rabbit day (Yin or Mao) it is a white costume with red belt and on a Snake or Horse day (Si or Wu) it is a black costume with a yellow belt. Finally on a Monkey or Rooster day (Shen and You) it is a red costume with a black belt.

The position of the Cowherd’s bun on his head denotes the Na Yin element of the first day of Li Cun. On a metal day they are in front of the ears. On a wood day, they are behind the ears. On a water day, the left bun is in front while the right bun is behind the ears. On a fire day, the right bun is in front of the ear while the left bun is behind. Finally on an earth day, both the buns are on top.

The Na Yin element of the first day of Li Cun determines how the Cowherd wears his shoes, leggings or pants. On a metal day he wears the pants and shoes with the left legging dangling from the waist. On a wood day he wears the pants and shoes with the right legging dangling from the waist. On a water day he wears them all and on a fire day he wears none of them. Finally on an earth day, he wears only pants without shoes or leggings.

The material of the branch that he uses as a ward depends on the Earthly Branch of the first day of Li Cun. It is hemp on a Rat, Rabbit, Horse or Rooster day, silk on an Ox, Dragon, Goat or Dog day and linen on a Tiger, Snake, Monkey or Pig day.

This gets a little complicated. Due to the complicity of the Chinese Solar and Lunar calendar, Li Cun or the Start of Spring can come before or after the Chinese New Year or first day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar for a particular year.

If Li Chu is less than five days ahead or behind Chinese New Year date, the Cowherd stands side by side with the Spring Ox. It Li Cun is more than five days ahead or behind Chinese New Year date, the Cowherd stands in front or behind the Spring Ox respectively.

Finally the Cowherd stands on the right of the Spring Ox in a Yin year and on the left in a Yang year.

With the above information, you can draw your own Spring Ox and Cowherd drawing for any year. Anyone game to try?

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