Mint Stamp Sheet Commemorates
the Year of the Ox
This stamp sheet was issued in 2009 to celebrate the year of the ox.
The ox is an important symbol in China and Southeast Asia. For thousands of years, the ox has been a key part of the farming society. The symbol of the ox more accurately refers to the water buffalo. It’s used for meat and milk, and as a beast of burden in farming.
The characteristics associated with oxen are also believed to be shared by people born in a Year of the Ox. Those include a calm temper, kind attitude and a lot of common sense. But oxen can also be seen as stubborn and strong-minded – the term “bull-headed” is used for a reason! Overall, the ox is a strong sign – tireless and patient in the face of trouble.
These characteristics are shown in many of the legends surrounding the creation of the Chinese zodiac. A great race was held to reach Buddha, with the winner being granted the first month of the calendar – a very lucky position. The powerful ox was able to keep his strength up better than any of the other animals over the difficult race. He swam through a heavy river and set a pace the other animals could not keep up for long.
As a kindness to the tiny rat, the ox let the rat ride on his head between his horns. But when they approached the finish line, the clever rat jumped off the ox’s head to finish first, while the poor ox came in second.
The ox was also known for its role in carrying the famous Chinese philosopher, Lao Tse, on his great journey into the West. Along the way, Lao Tse wrote the “Tao Te Ching” – one of the fundamental writings of the Taoist philosophy. The sturdy ox carried Lao Tse over the mountains and beyond the horizon, and the two were never seen again. The trip was called the “Purple Cloud from the East,” or “The Majesty Comes from the East.”