A little mouse ran up a lamp
to steal some oil and couldn’t get down
It squeaked for its grandma
But she wouldn’t come
So down it fell, clattering all the way
The lively and loveable mouse in this Beijing nursery rhyme is a great favorite of Chinese children. It is said that every year around the Lunar New Year, the mice send their daughters off to get married.A traditional New Year’s painting from Sichuan Province,”Mouse Takes a Wife,”shows a great weddingprocession of mice banging gongs and hitting drums. The mouse bride rides in a traditional bridal sedan chair, while the mouse groom sits astride a toad, decked out in red and green finery with a big smile on his face.A crowd of excited mouse friends surrounds them, cheering and hugging each othe and adding their delight to the festive New Year’s occasion.
The characteristic behavior and appearance of mice and rats have given rise to many expressive Chinese idioms. The belief that mice have poor eyesight is the basis of the expression “A mouse can’t see past its whiskers,”describing a person with a limited outlook.”Rat belly, chicken guts”is a metaphor for someone who is intolerant and narrow-minded. Imagine the discomfort of a rat stuck insidea bellows, buffeted by air being sucked in from one end and expelled out the other. People who have to resolve conflicting complaints often refer to this image, wryly saying that they are “Trapped like a rat in a bellows, catching flak from both ends.”
It can be seen that Rat, although first in the Chinese zodiac, can be an object of scorn as wellas admiration.