Last week we looked at the design of a Coat of Arms as well as some of the basic ideas behind it. This week I want to explain the design I went for and what direction I want to take it in later on in life.
It’s important to me that my design is practical and malleable. At some point I will want to change it to include my children and maybe they will take it and make it their own too.
First of all you must know what presumptions the design is based upon.
- The shield design is only important as a “space” for symbols to reside.
- The peripheral elements of a coat of arms are disposable/optional.
- The traditional symbols are out-dated.
I wanted a family coat of arms, so I needed something that could speak for myself and for my partner. The Chinese zodiac was an obvious choice. I had been working on another project and had found myself researching the uses of the 12 animals.
The character and personality attributes of the animals are fun but I had to discard them. These are inherent or imbued characteristics that I can’t really use or play with. A few other aspects of the animals, like their yin and yang associations, were also dead ends for me but could be useful for someone else.
Instead I decided to base my design on the four Earthly Branches found in BaZi. These assign an animal and a character to you based on the year, month, day, and hour that you were born. These animals are supposed to have descending influence on your character, the year animal being strongest and the hour animal being weakest.
Year or “Birth Animals”
- 1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008 — RAT (鼠)
- 1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009— OX(牛)
- 1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010— TIGER(虎)
- 1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011— RABBIT(兔)
- 1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012— DRAGON(龍)
- 1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013— SNAKE(蛇)
- 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014 — HORSE(馬)
- 1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015 — GOAT(羊)
- 1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016 — MONKEY(猴)
- 1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017 — ROOSTER(雞)
- 1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018 — DOG(狗)
- 1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019 — PIG(豬)
Months or “Inner Animals”
- January — Ox
- February — Tiger
- March — Rabbit
- April — Dragon
- May — Snake
- June — Horse
- July — Sheep
- August — Monkey
- September — Rooster
- October — Dog
- November — Pig
- December — Rat
Days or “True Animals.”
- Monday — Sheep
- Tuesday — Dragon
- Wednesday — Horse
- Thursday — Rat,Pig
- Friday — Rabbit, Snake, Dog
- Saturday — Ox,Tiger, Rooster
- Sunday — Monkey
Hours or “Secret Animals.”
- 11am -1am: Rat
- 1am – 3 am: Ox
- 3am – 5 am: Tiger
- 5am – 7 am: Rabbit
- 7am – 9am: Dragon
- 9am – 11am: Snake
- 11am – 1pm: Horse
- 1pm – 3pm: Goat
- 3pm – 5pm: Monkey
- 5pm – 7pm: Rooster
- 7pm – 9pm: Dog
- 9pm – 11pm: Pig
What I liked about this most, was the idea of being able to approximately represent the birth time of an individual to within a few hours. With four animals.
Now, what I felt was somehow extra special, was the method of calculating the time of birth. It is strictly tied to the lunar calendar and the passing of the sun. How much of a difference do you think it can make?
Well, I am born in 1988 which is usually listed as the year of the Dragon. Yet Chinese New Year occurred fairly late that year and with my birth taking place on the 6th of February I ended up being a Rabbit instead.
Then when calculating the hour, you need to know the latitude and longitude of the birth site so that you can compensate for changes to the sun’s position in the sky. This could easily change your hour animal significantly if you were born in the northern or southern hemisphere or even if daylight savings time was in operation. This means charts offering a western time to “eastern time” conversion cannot be 100% correct.
As an example of how this plays out, I’ve sourced this table from Kevin Foong’s Feng Shui website. We are only using the Earthly Branches to identify Donald Trump’s animals, they in the first table. The second table of branches were those waving about around election time.
In my own case I had two sets of data:
- 1991 August 27th 15:41 (solar time 16:47) = Goat, Monkey, Snake, Monkey (Monkey).
- 1988 February 6th 11:03 (solar time 11:23) = Rabbit, Tiger, Dragon, Horse (Horse).
Abandoning the conventional shield shapes, I chose a circle for the symbols. A circle is easy to find balance in visually and is a particularly auspicious shape. In Chinese culture, the circle stands for fulfillment, oneness, and unity. This meaning is mirrored in Western thinking.
At the centre of our coat of arms are a clock and a dinosaur. These are two characters we found for ourselves, these two icons of time and age walk hand in hand as lovers and friends. The meaning of these two characters are of a personal nature and may be lost in later evolutions of this design.
I’ve used the design on two projects in Singapore so far. Some tweaking is in order but I love this design. I think everyone should be able to use something like this.
In coming weeks I’ll write up some details on how the ang bao and the Christmas card printing experience went.