2022 marks the year of the Tiger in the Chinese lunar calendar. The Tiger is believed to be the king of all beasts in China and is a symbol of strength, exorcising evils, and braveness.
However, legend has it that the Tiger was not always part of the zodiac - in ancient times, it was a Lion instead of a Tiger that completed the twelve zodiac animals.
The Story of the Lion and the Tiger
The Lion was a ferocious beast who broke the laws of the forest, leaving chaos and destruction in his wake. The Jade Emperor was troubled by the Lion's behaviour and begged the palace immortals for guidance on restoring peace. The immortals recommended the guard Tiger of the heavenly palace. The Tiger was powerful but was seen as an ineffectual hunter and was therefore not respected by the animal kingdom. The Tiger needed to earn his stripes, so he went to find the master of the forest - a black cat who was a renowned and wise hunter. He secretly began observing the cat and improving his skills and wiles as a hunter. His power and influence grew as a result, and it was not long before he became the king of the forest and was able to give orders to the other animals. The heavenly palace heard of his success and influence and made him an Imperial bodyguard.
But the Lion didn't want to give up his power and position, so he broke into the human's territory with an army of other beasts wreaking havoc and disaster in the towns as well as the forest. When the Jade Emperor heard about the destruction and unrest on Earth, he decided that only the Tiger had a chance of regaining control so he sent him back to the Kingdom.
The Tiger was troubled by the devastation he saw, so he hunted down the evil beasts. He fought with the Pig, the Bear, and the Lion, and defeated all three! When he returned to the Palace, the Emperor carved three horizontal lines in his forehead in recognition of his successful duels.
But then The Tiger learnt about unrest in the coastal territories, which were being attacked by turtle-like monsters. The Tiger came back to earth to fight and defeat them, and the forest, the human world, and the sea were restored to order. The Emperor added a vertical line to the three horizontal ones to make the Chinese character for 'King' - a sign of greatness that today's tigers still bear.
And so, the Emperor removed the Lion from the zodiac and the noble Tiger took his place. And that is how the Tiger became the King of the beasts - with the help of a little black cat.