Zodiac animals have been popular in China since the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589). This Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) painting depicts six of the 12 Chinese constellation gods – all men – in long robes with wide sleeves. They are personifications of six zodiac animals: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon and snake, which are also depicted in the painting.
This painting is on silk and mounted on yellow fabric. It is a treasure from the permanent collection of the Shanxi Museum.