We are usually impressed by quite clever and bright monkeys so that we call them靈猴 Líng hóu intelligent monkey. Chinese people also think monkeys can also bring people happiness, longevity and wealth.
Since ancient times, the theory and ying-yang and five elements prevailed, people use the ancient calendar based on 十天干10 Heavenly Steams and 十二地支12 Earthly Branches. This year 2016 is named丙申Bǐng shēn. In the Eastern Han Dynasty, people began to replace it with the 12 Chinese zodiac sign which is a custom of numbering the year by the different animal signs. The monkey ranks ninth, and in the theory of 五行Wǔháng five elements or 5 movements, it falls on Fire, so this year 2016, we have the Year of Fire Monkey.
Chinese people believe in福 Fú ( blessings) 祿Lù ( rank and fame,) 壽Shòu ( longevity ) and of which blessings and longevity are both related to monkeys. So why did the ancients think monkeys can live long? This is a story behind it. It’s said there is a kind of magic peach, which grows in the garden of 西王母 Xīwángmǔ Goddess of Heaven. It flowers once for 3000 years and bears fruit once for 3000 years. Those people having a magic peach can live 600 years longer. In the Chinese Classic “Journey to the West” 西遊記Xīyóu jì in the plot that 孫悟空Sūnwùkōng The Monkey King makes great trouble at the Heavenly Peach Banquet and can enjoy a long life after stealing magic peaches. Therefore monkeys are considered a symbol of longevity.
Monkeys are also related to the 祿Lù ( rank and fame ). In ancient China, as far back as in Zhou Dynasty, Chinese Emperors developed the five-rank nobility system, consisting of "公" (ɡōnɡ, duke), "侯" (hóu, marquis), "伯" ( Bó earl), "子" (zǐ, recount) and"男" (nán, baron) from the highest to the lowest in respect of seniority. Getting a title of nobility was the life’s values and orientation for people. 猴Hóu ( Monkey) is homophonic as 侯Hóu (Marquis ) in the Chinese language, so monkeys become a symbol of being an important role and getting a title of nobility.
In this年畫Niánhuà (Yearly Picture ) it vividly depicts a monkey with colorful and beautiful clothes, riding on a horse meanwhile there is a bee flying by. In which“ Bees and monkeys“ is homophonic as 封侯Fēng hóu , “ on the horse “ is homophonic as 馬上 Mǎshàng ( quickly ) collectively meaning that a person could achieve an higher position or to be promoted quickly in his career, 馬上封侯 Mǎshàng Fēnghóu.