Zhan Gengxi (Chinese, B. 1941) “Mother Pig w/ Babies” Signed lower left. Original Watercolor painting on Rice Paper laid on Cardboard. Provenance: Collection of James A. Helzer (1946-2008), Founder of Unicover Corporation.
This painting appeared on the Fleetwood First Day Cover for the 29c The Year of the Pig Lunar New Year Series stamp issued December 30, 1994.
Regarded by many Westerners as a combination of mathematical complexities and symbolic tradition, the Chinese lunar calendar is aligned in repeating 12-year cycles. Each year in the cycle is represented by a different animal. Many legends offer explanations for how these particular creatures were chosen. One states that the Heavenly Jade Emperor summoned all the world’s animals to participate in a race. The first 12 to complete the challenge were chosen to represent each of the different years, which were assigned by the order in which the animal finished. Occupying first place is the rat, who, according to the story, did so by using trickery. When confronted by a large river that he was unable to cross, the clever rodent hitched a ride on the back of the ox, another participant in the race. As they neared the far side of the river, the rat jumped from the large beast to finish first. The pig, 1995’s symbol, came in 12th, capturing last place. Perhaps this explains why those born during the Year of the Pig appear to be sedate and easy going! People whose birth years are represented by the Pig are also believed to be sincere, tolerant and honest. But, because they expect others to possess these same honorable traits, they are considered to be naive as well.
Image Size: 8.25 x 9.75 in.
Overall Size: 12.5 x 14.25 in.