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Korean Traditional Culture – Sibijisin Story

What is ‘Sibijisin’?

The New Year 2014 is referred to as ‘Gabonyeon’ or ‘Year of the Horse.’ The horse is the seventh in the group of twelve animal guardian deities collectively known as the Sibijisin, which literally means "Twelve (sibi) Gods of the Earth (jisin)." The animals of the Sibijisin are the mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, chicken, dog and pig.

In ancient times, Koreans had referred to the twelve animals to measure the hours of the day. For example, the hours between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. had been called "Myosi" (Time of the Rabbit), and the hours between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. "Misi" (Time of the Sheep). The entire day had been divided into twelve different "times," each represented by one of the twelve animals. Also, the animals had been thought to represent directions. As the animals have long been revered as guardians against evil spirits, their statues have been built around many royal tombs and sites.

Moreover, each year is marked by a jisin; since there are twelve jisins, the cycle repeats every 12 years. It is traditionally believed that people possess the personality of the animal that marks their birth year. Therefore, the year and the time of birth are often used to determine one’s personality and fate.

Sibijisin and Times

Mouse: Jasi
(23:00-01:00)
The mouse is the most active during Jasi.
Cow: Chuksi
(01:00-03:00)
The cow chews cud during Chuksi in preparation for the next morning's work in the field.
Tiger: Insi
(03:00-05:00)
The tiger is the most ferocious during Insi
Rabbit: Myosi
(05:00-07:00)
During Myosi, before the sunrise, the rabbit can be seen on the moon.
Dragon: Jinsi
(07:00-09:00)
During Jinsi, the dragon gathers the clouds to bring rain.
Snake: Sasi
(09:00-11:00)
The snake sleeps during Sasi, and will not harm anyone.
Horse: Osi
(11:00-13:00)
During Osi, the “yang” (male) energy turns into the “yin” (female) energy. The horse that gallops across the earth, which is the ‘yin’, represents the time.
Sheep: Misi
(13:00-15:00)
Misi is the ideal time for the sheep to graze without harming the grass.
Monkey: Sinsi
(15:00-17:00)
The monkey cries the most during Sinsi.
Chicken: Yusi
(17:00-19:00)
The chicken returns to its nest during Yusi.
Dog: Sulsi
(19:00-21:00)
As the sun sets during Sulsi, the dog begins guarding its house
Pig: Haesi
(21:00-23:00)
The pig sleeps the most deeply during Haesi.

Meaning of the 12 Sibiji

Animals Time Months Directions
Ja Mouse 23:00~01:00 Nov N
Chuk Cow 01:00~03:00 Dec NN
In Tiger 03:00~05:00 Jan NEE
Myo Rabbit 05:00~07:00 Feb E
Jin Dragon 07:00~09:00 Mar SEE
Sa Snake 09:00~11:00 Apr SSE
O Horse 11:00~13:00 May S
Mi Sheep 13:00~15:00 Jun SSW
Sin Monkey 15:00~17:00 Jul SWW
Yu Chicken 17:00~19:00 Aug W
Sul Dog 19:00~21:00 Sep NWW
Hae Pig 21:00~23:00 Oct NNW

* Directions: N-North, S-South, E-East, W-West

Just for Fun: Birth Year Personality Test

Mouse (1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008)
People born in the year of the mouse are frugal, honest, and hardworking. They are also witty and efficient. However, their soft hearts may make them become wary of others, and lead to conflicts.
Cow (1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009)
People born in the year of the cow honest, charistmatic, patient and hardworking. They do not like to fail, either in career or love.
Tiger (1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010)
People born in the year of the tiger are passionate, honest, optimistic, and proactive. Honor and glory are their biggest motivations. However, their passion for success may lead to recklessness.
Rabbit (1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011)
People born in the year of the rabbit are sensitive, humorous, and talented. They are artists. In attaining success, they tend to put little effort in their endeavors, relying too much on their talent instead.
Dragon (1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012)
People born in the year of the dragon are adventurous, emotional and efficient. However, they may get caught up in daydreaming of a romantic lifestyle, or become too arrogant.
Snake (1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013)
People born in the year of the snake are ambitious and hardworking. They are perfectionists. However, their overly perfectionist personality often results in self-doubt.
Horse (1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002,2014)
People born in the year of the horse are cheerful, open-minded and consistent. However, they have a tendency to be arrogant and wasteful.
Sheep (1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003)
People born in the year of the sheep are compassionate and peaceful. However, they are also fearful and indecisive.
Monkey (1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004)
People born in the year of the monkey are social, cheerful, and positive. However, they lack tenacity.
Chicken (1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005)
People born in the year of the chicken are intelligent and courageous. They are also meticulous and morally upright. However, they can also be self-centered and stubborn.
Dog (1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006)
People born in the year of the dog are honest, cheerful, sympathetic and responsible. However, they have a tendency to become reckless in maintaining relationships.
Pig (1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007)
People born in the year of the pig are honest, simple and tough-minded. Many are hardworking. However, their indecisiveness may hinder self-development.

Above story is related to Korea’s traditional ideology

Last updated on December 18, 2013

Date 12/31/2013



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