Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Memorising the Chinese Zodiac using a story

In my previous article I introduced the Chinese Zodiac and showed how it was possible to remember the twelve animals and their corresponding years using the number peg system. 2008 is the year of the Rat, and the following years are Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

Another way of remembering the twelve animals is to link them together using a story. Each animal is imagined doing some sort of memorable action. In addition, your image needs to trigger recall of the next animal in the series. Here is my story. 

  • A large RAT jumps on the head of an OX.
  • The OX gets really annoyed and charges into a TIGER.
  • The TIGER is trying to eat a large grey RABBIT.
  • The RABBIT runs back into his burrow and finds a Golden DRAGON hiding inside with his eyes glowing and breathing fire.
  • The DRAGON's tail is like a SNAKE, slithering out of the burrow.
  • The SNAKE wraps itself around the leg of a HORSE attempting to strangle the horse.
  • The HORSE shakes its leg and a GOAT runs to the horse dislodging the snake with its horns.
  • The GOAT tosses the snake up into a tree where it is caught by a golden MONKEY.
  • The MONKEY laughs and shrieks, imitating a ROOSTER.
  • Another ROOSTER is running in the farmyard chasing a DOG.
  • The DOG is chasing the PIGS and trying to eat from their trough.
Well, this story seems rather pointless and silly but I am able to recall it easily and identify the twelve animals in sequence. I have made the Dragon and the Monkey "Golden" as these represent the years for 2012 and 2016 for faster recall of the years in the story. After a few days of remembering my story I know that Dragon is 2012 and Monkey is 2016. I knew that the Rat is 2008 from the first time I memorised the story.

Converting a birth year into a Chinese sign is a process of adding multiples of 12 until 2008 or later is reached.  If I wanted to convert a birth year of 1990, I add 24 to get 2014. Recalling my story starting with with the Rat (2008), Ox (2009), Tiger (2010), Rabbit (2011), Dragon (2012), Snake (2013) then Horse (2014).

This process of recall takes time, compared to the Peg System. 2014 gives a peg word of Red Tyre, and my key image was a Red Tyre around a Horse's neck.  Once the "milestones" of Dragon and Monkey were remembered, I could recall Dragon (2012), Snake (2013) then Horse (2014).

We have now seen two memory systems in action to memorise the same set of information. Your choice of system depends on how you want to recall the information.  The story method is great for recalling the animals in sequence, and the peg system is faster for converting years into animal signs.


  1. I read lot of articles and really like this article. This information is definitely useful for everyone in daily life. Fantastic job.

    chinese horoscope

  2. Are there any memory games which can help improve memory?
    fast memory

  3. The Zodiac Chinese Astrology ONline is the dominate calendar of ancient Asia. In truth, its sixty- year cycle continues to be a vital influence to today’s art historians, as it assists with distinguishing precise dates of artwork created from centuries ago. Despite being based on a cycle, this zodiac is usually identified with a 12- year cycle related to the 12 zodiac animals.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. In particular George Tang I was inspired by the art and science of astrology and astronomy as practiced by the people of china. That is not to say I had no interest in other forms but i was drawn to this form of interoperation in particular through its beauty, simplicity and cultured approach

  6. I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.Brainfort supplement