Chinese Carves Ivory Zodiac Animal Group, China, Early - Mid 20th Century. Rooster rides astride a dragon while various Zodiac animals cling to back. Signed by the artist, and in excellent condition. Fitted teakwood base. 5 1/2" H x 6 3/4" L x 4" W. The Sh¨¥ngxi¨¤o, literally "birth likeness", is also known in English as the Chinese zodiac. Zodiac derives from the similar concept in western astrology and means "circle of animals". It is a scheme and systematic plan of future action that relates each year to an animal and its reputed attributes according to a 12-year cycle, and it remains popular in several East Asian countries including China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan. Identifying this scheme using the term "zodiac" reflects several similarities to the western zodiac: both have time cycles divided into 12 parts, each labels at least the majority of those parts with names of animals, and each is widely associated with a culture of ascribing a person's personality or events in his or her life to the supposed influence of the person's particular relationship to the cycle. Nevertheless, there are major differences: the Chinese 12-part cycle corresponds to years, rather than months. The Chinese zodiac is represented by 12 animals, whereas some of the signs in the Western zodiac are not animals, despite the implication of the Greek etymology of "zodiac". The animals of the Chinese zodiac are not associated with constellations, let alone those spanned by the ecliptic plane.