Thursday, January 29, 2009

Year of the Cow, Ox, Bull or Cattle?

Chinese New Year this year is the year of the 'niu' (Chinese word for Cow). So does this mean that this year is the year of the cow? Why is it that media rather called the year of the 'niu' as the year of the ox? Why is it not the year of the bull or the year of the cattle?
I am quite confused by the above similar terms of the bovine. However, my questions were 'allayed' after a visit to the Singapore Philatetic Musuem on the second day of Chinese New Year with my Dear. Here is the quick fact:
'Cattle' is the formal name for cows. An 'ox' is basically a trained cow and a castrated bull. A female cow or cow of unknown gender is referred to as a 'cow' while a male cow is called a 'bull'.
The Chinese word for cow ('niu') does not distinguish one bovine creature from another. So the Year of the 'Ox' can be called the Year of the 'Cow' or the Year of the 'Bull' or the Year of the 'Cattle'.
Interesting rite?


Anonymous said...

We hv dairy farms in the neighbourhood. The black cows with white patches grazed on grasland the size of 2-3 football fields !!

To me, cows r for milking, whereas an ox is often depicted in wet rice fields toiling with the farmer. They tend to be a different breed too.

I didnt know that an ox is an adult castrated bull though.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that this year it is the female gender. In that case, cow is more correct.

Singapore Short Stories said...

Ya Dutchie, I am also surprised to learn that an ox is a castrated bull.. but having learnt it from the Singapore Stamp Musuem, I think the fact can't be wrong haha..

Hi Anonymous, thanks for your information!

Anonymous said...

Actually if you just look up a dictionary, it will tell you an ox is a castrated bull.

According to Chinese feng shui there are different types of cow years - the fire cow, the earth cow, the water cow, etc.

Singapore Short Stories said...

Thanks QA for your enlightment!

This year is indeed the year of the earth rat!

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