– Launched Dec 2020 due to pandemic delays. Originally it was meant to be launched Feb 2020.
– Trivia : Ad card (2nd last photo) that says “百毒不侵” or “immunity to toxins or poisonous attacks” was rejected by Bicycle as the word for “poison” is not allowed. This ad card will be featured in their next deck 烟云扇影 Fan Shadow of the Fog Clouds.
– Available editions :
1. Bicycle Mouse Cards 2020
2. Bicycle Cow Cards 2021
3. Bicycle Tiger Cards 2022
The Rat or Mouse (鼠) is the first of the repeating 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac, constituting part of the Chinese calendar system (with similar systems in use elsewhere). The Year of the Rat in standard Chinese is Chinese: 鼠年; pinyin: shǔnián. The rat is associated with the first branch of the Earthly Branch symbol 子 (zǐ), which starts a repeating cycle of twelve years. The Chinese word shǔ (鼠) refers to various small rodents (Muroidea), such as rats and mice. The term “zodiac” ultimately derives from an Ancient Greek term referring to a “circle of little animals”.
There are also a yearly month of the rat and a daily hour of the rat (Chinese double hour, midnight, 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.). Years of the rat are cyclically differentiated by correlation to the Heavenly Stems cycle, resulting in a repeating cycle of five years of the rat (over a sixty-year period), each rat year also being associated with one of the Chinese wu xing, also known as the “five elements”, or “phases”: the “Five Phases” being Fire (火 huǒ), Water (水 shuǐ), Wood (木 mù), Metal (金 jīn), and Earth (土 tǔ).
Rats are quick-witted, resourceful, and smart but lack courage. With rich imaginations and sharp observations, they can take advantage of various opportunities well. In Chinese culture, rats represent working diligently and thriftiness, so people born in a Rat year are thought to be wealthy and prosperous.
A popular modern story has it that the order of the animals in the twelve-year cycle was due to a competition between animal candidates, held by the ruler of Heaven, Earth, and Hell — the Jade Emperor. According to one version of this tale, the emperor’s advisors selected twelve candidates from among the animal types, including the rat and the cat. The winner was to be selected based upon merit, as to personal appearance, lifestyle, and contributions to the world. Before the competition, the cat asked the rat for a wake up call in order to get to the show on time; however, the rat apprehensive of the competition, especially as to the cat’s apparent beauty, did not wake the cat, who then overslept (and, ever afterwards, the embittered cat became a ratter and a mouser).
The Jade Emperor mystified as to why there were only eleven candidate animals to show up inquired of his servants. These servants hastily acquired the first possible replacement animal which they encountered, (a pig). After the start of the competition, the rat achieved first place by performing on the flute while upon the back of the ox. Impressed, the Jade Emperor placed the rat at the beginning of the twelve-year cycle (and the ox second, for being so generous as to allow the rat to play the flute upon the ox’s back). Then the other animals were placed in order according to the Jade Emperor’s judgment.
In popular culture, much attention is directed towards supposed similarities of personalities of persons born in the year of the rat. For example, Al Gore, Richard Simmons, William Shakespeare, T. S. Eliot, and George Washington, and more, are all presented as examples of some sort of theme based upon being born in the year of the rat.
The zodiacal rat is known in other cultures besides China, in Asia and beyond. Generally, the rat/mouse is the first of a twelve-year animal cycle, although some of the other animals tend to vary. In Japan, the rat is known as nezumi, and is the first in a twelve-year zodiacal cycle of animals. The Year of the Rat and the years of the subsequent other zodiacal animals is celebrated during Chinese New Year, in many parts of the world, with the animal appropriate to each new year serving as an artistic motif for decorations. The Rat and other zodiacal animals are also a popular motif on Chinese lunar coins and other coin series minted by various countries and also on various internationally issued postage stamps.
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